When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.
The greatest fear any woman has comes to fruition when author Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) moves to a quiet Louisiana town to complete her novel before its deadline. She took her first misstep five minutes into her supposedly pleasant stay when she brushed off the advances of the town’s young lothario Johnny (Jeff Branson) at a gas station. Johnny would not stand for this type of treatment, especially in front of his two equally twisted friends Stanley (Daniel Franzese) and Andy (Rodney Eastman). After they discover the simple-minded, puppy dog of a man Matthew (Chad Lindberg) had not only been in Jennifer’s rental home to fix a leak but also received a thank you peck, the men and the sexually twisted Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard) take it upon themselves to terrorize the young woman until she breaks.
Unfortunately for them, they had no idea of true, brutal terror.
When you have a film that is not only a remake of a cult classic (and a film my father would stutter over knowing I’ve seen…twice), but also made to turn stomachs in on themselves, it’s no surprise it would be difficult to pick the most disturbing moment within said film. If you can make it through the horrific (isn’t all rape horrific?) group rape scene, just know the entire second half of I Spit on Your Grave is a true endurance test.
Jennifer has gone feral, living off swamp creatures (bugs, rats, snakes) for a month, building up her strength and strategy for exacting revenge on the men who took the most intimate of intimates from her—her dignity. While I should say the incredibly memorable scene where Jennifer shoves a decomposing swamp rat down Stanley’s throat after she smeared fish guts all over his face and waited as birds took their own revenge on his eye balls should be the best moment, or even watching a bound Andy use his upper body strength to hold himself over a bathtub full of lye with little success could also hold its own as the most killer of killer scenes, I won’t.
That distinction belongs solely to the comeuppance the soap-opera handsome Johnny gets after Jennifer strings him up in a common BDSM arm hold, pulls out each of his teeth with dirty pliers (no, clean pliers would not have made it any better), and then makes him fellate both a loaded pistol and his own castrated penis. Then she sweetly leaves him to bleed out from the gaping wound between his own legs. Yes, it’s as vivid a moment as it sounds
If the moments I mentioned above weren’t enough to convince you the remake of I Spit on Your Grave is not only an extreme entry into the pause-button-necessary genre of torture porn and modern exploitation films (see also, this year’s Straw Dogs), the sheer amount of no-holds-barred rape and revenge violence should have you sold. Watching this once civilized woman turned vigilante consistently one-up these brutes is both incredibly enjoyable and incredibly upsetting. And, I’m not even mentioning Sheriff’s Storch’s death by anal raping in his own home—yet.
The film is about a woman getting revenge on her rapists. There is an excruciatingly long group rape scene in a swamp that the victim is only mildly awake for. The film has lots of “sex,” but if it’s the kind of sex you’re into, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your life decisions.
I chose such a low rating of skulls on scares only because the scares in I Spit on Your Grave are not the typical horror film type of scares. No one is waiting behind dark corners as the music crescendos with every thrash of a knife. Rather, the scares here stem purely from the sickness in our protagonist’s mind. She has been brutalized, so in return she brutalizes. While it’s a highly exaggerated peek into the minds of some fucked up people, the true scares come from knowing these types of sickos actually exist. And I include the sort of justified Jennifer in the Sicko category, just FYI.
The first time I watched I Spit on Your Grave I remarked to my patient movie-going partner that the most compelling part of the film was just how attractive the rapists were. Let’s talk about that for a second, shall we? Rather than having Law and Order: SVU-type uglies as the perpetrators, director Steven R. Monroe chose to cast a former soap opera actor, two adorable primetime bitplayers, and popular goofy guy in these roles.
The squirming I did in my seat had almost as much to do with the inventive violence as it did with those doing the violence. Say what you will about the original and this less than critically acclaimed remake, however do not say the film is not memorable for its boundary-pushing casting.
And to paraphrase Effie White in Dreamgirls, I’m telling you, if someone messed with me the way these handsome gents rustled with Jennifer, I too would consider learning the Ways of the Swamp and doing my own havoc on that tiny little town.