Review: I Spit on Your Grave

Director: Steven R. Monroe
Release: January 20 2010 (theatrical)
Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Andrew Howard

Day of the Woman (better known as its re-release title “I Spit on Your Grave”) was a film released in 1978 that quickly became one of the most controversial films of all time. It pushed the envelope with graphic depictions of gang rape, assault and murder.

Because of that, it was banned in several countries, which of course makes it an instant cult classic.

Straight up: The original film is either shocking and powerful, or just another exploration film, depending on who you are. I lean more to the original line of thinking, but at the same time, while not a bad movie, it’s also not exactly great because it hasn’t aged well, and the acting which was poor then, stands out even more these days. I think that further helps it to hold the “cult status” label, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was with that in mind that I was actually looking forward to a remake.

Fast forward thirty two years or so and this movie also garnered its fair share of controversy: the MPAA slapped it with an NC-17 rating but rather than make the cuts to obtain a more sell-able “R” rating, the crew left everything intact and it was released “unrated” which pretty much means it was sent to die in terms of box office success, but I for one, applaud such a move.

This version of the film stars relatively unheard of Sarah Butler as Jennifer Hills, a writer who is on her way to a secluded cabin in order to write her next novel. Upon arriving she meets some of the locals at a gas station and they decide that being a “rich city bitch” that she obviously thinks she’s better than them.

She spends the first few nights getting used to the place but can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched or stalked, and well, it all amps up from there on the night that the local boys decide to invade the cabin and assault her.

The assault and rape scenes are disgusting and grueling in that they are presented with such a savage and real presentation, where you feel completely and utterly helpless and enraged. I don’t know specific times, but the whole ordeal takes up at least half an hour of the movie, if not more, and it is not pleasant at all.

What’s shown here is probably about on par with the original, but thanks to modern day cameras/effects, it’s all so much more real and effective. I won’t give specifics, but Jennifer is beaten, taunted and gang raped by five men and left for dead.

Now, I know plenty of people who don’t understand the appeal of something like this. It’s not that I love watching rape scenes or women getting assaulted. Nor does the director, nor does anybody in the film.

That’s not the point.

It’s written and performed in such a way to make YOU, the viewer feel disgusted and repulsed, and truly, it works. That, to me, is good film making. It’s entirely true that achieving that effect isn’t necessarily indicative of skill or brilliance, but at the same time, it’s brave, and it works.

Jennifer narrowly escapes, but is assumed dead after she’s not seen for over a month.

Eventually she begins mounting her revenge by at first taunting the men and then full on getting her hands dirty. The revenge part of the movie moves at a brisk pace and is pretty unrelenting once the first scum bag is dealt with.

Comparing this part to the original may be worth noting, as what’s here is far more brutal, where in the original Jennifer used her sexuality to lure the rapists in again (ridiculous) to strike, in this film, she simply sneaks up on people and bashes them in the head so that she can torture them somewhere else.

These scenes are pretty creative, and while I don’t enjoy rape scenes, you know what I do enjoy? revenge. Revenge is probably my favourite movie theme of all time, and these pieces of shit get what they deserve. And then some, all pulled off by a stoned faced Sarah Butler who does a pretty admirable job of looking like she’s enjoying it, but also in remarkable pain emotionally.

Just some of the carnage:
[major scene spoilers below]
a penis is severed and shoved into a gaping mouth, eyelids are pierced and held open by fishhooks, someone gets an acid bath, a shotgun is used to sodomize a man, and so on.
[End spoilers]

Overall, it’s easy to sit back and call this a hollow film simply made to shock people, and I don’t know if I’d even bother arguing, because not only is that partly true (I don’t think the write/director would completely object), but those I think these people also don’t get it.

There are also people who see this (and the original) as a very feminist film and actually pretty powerful because of that. I won’t argue with that either.

To me it’s simply “what goes around, comes around” and a completely shattered and broken woman getting her revenge because it is all she cares about at that point, and yes, that is entertaining to me. One hundred percent.

This is not a perfect film. yes some of the revenge bits probably go a bit into the “sort of implausible” realm, but again, I don’t see that as bad, and anyway, who’s to say what a person is or isn’t capable of after going through that hell.

Some of the acting, especially that of the fat dude in a few scenes, isn’t up to par, but as far as remakes go, I enjoyed it a lot and it improves on the original very much, though both can still easily stand on their own.

Day of the woman, indeed.

Arbitrary number rating that really doesn’t mean fuck all: 7/10

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