I am not a big fan of remakes but there have been a few good ones such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and yes, even Last House on the Left, which I hated until Stephen King and repeated "there is nothing else on" viewings on HBO convinced me otherwise. Now I can add I Spit On Your Grave to this illustrious list. Now, I only recently saw the original for the first time (I may have seen it as a child sneaking peaks into the living room during horror movie night but I have tried to block that from memory.) I found the original brutal yet utterly fascinating. I am loathe to say that I "enjoyed" it, but I found it thrilling and exhilarating when Jennifer takes her bloody revenge. I had this same feeling watching the 2010 remake.
The story is essentially the same. A young woman, Jennifer Mills (played by Sarah Butler, who looks like a mix of Kristin Stewart and Hillary Swank but about 1000 times less annoying that either of them) rents a cabin in the woods to finish her second novel. Being a woman after my own heart she takes plenty of booze and weed up there with her, because hey, writing is hard. At a service station she runs into three locals, Johnny, Andy, and Stanley. Johnny, who looks like a male supermodel, makes a pass at her which she quickly shoots down, embarrassing him in front of his yokel friends. Later, at the cabin when she has a problem with the plumbing, she meets Matthew, a mentally challenged young man who must be a savant with pipes. She kisses him in gratitude and he runs out, embarrassed. Later, he tells his "friends" (the service station guys) about it and they decide to pay her a visit. Joined by the Sheriff (a character not in the original) the boys humiliate and rape Jennifer. They plan on killing her but she gets away by jumping off a bridge.
These scenes are brutal and hard to watch, as you would expect. As a woman, I found them particularly horrifying. It may be my imagination, and definitely my opinion, but the rape in the remake is not as harrowing as the one in the original. The rape in the original seems to go on and on and on. But that does not mean that the 2010 version is not ferocious. It is god-awful and hard to watch.
Jennifer lives, and thanks to earlier explorations, she hides out in an abandoned cabin and survives on rats, fish, and bugs. This I can accept. But where does she get her clothes? The guys, after giving up the search for her body, go back to the cabin and burn all of her clothes and gear. Yet, when Jennifer shows up to reap revenge she is wearing perfectly fitting jeans and cute tank tops! Did she find these in abandoned cabin? Did the previous tenants of the abandoned cabin happen to be size 2 supermodels?
Back to the story. Jennifer, instead of going to the police (who can't be trusted anyway) exacts bloody revenge on each man. What was clever is that she tortures the men the way each individual tortured her. The guy who choked her gets choked, the guy who videotaped the whole thing gets his eyes pecked out by crows. Yes, these are elaborate revenge scenarios. Thank goodness Jennifer also ran across a warehouse filled with weapons and lye before her rape.
I Spit on Your Grave is a simple rape/revenge film. I am not going to psychoanalyze it or politicize it. It is not a feminist manifesto nor an examination or country mouse vs. city mouse morals. It is a "those bastards are going to get what is coming to them" film. It is torture porn. In many ways it reminded me of the Hostel films. You see our heroes go through absolute Hell and then you get to see them get revenge. It is certainly a lot better than seeing some hybrid create rape her mother and kill her father. Please see last review.
One thing really bothered me throughout this entire film. The yokel Stanley looked so god damn familiar it was driving me crazy. I woke up a 3am with the answer to where I had seen him before. He was Damien in Mean Girls. You are welcome.