Fantastic Review: I Spit On Your Grave

By  · Published on October 5th, 2010

A young girl decides that a weekend at a secluded cabin is just the thing she needs to finish her book. On her way there, she crosses paths with a smattering of yokels on whom she leaves a less-than-positive impression. They show up later, rape her for what seems like an hour, and leave her to die. Despite their bumbling efforts, shockingly, she survives. What follows is a parade of violence designed to offer this wronged woman bloody satisfaction

I Spit on Your Grave is an absolutely disgusting film. It is impossible to review a film like this without having your objectivity called into question. The makers of this film would like you to believe that I found their film disgusting because of its content; insinuating that their rape-rape-revenge film incites a commendable level of emotional response. Sorry guys, my sensibilities are none too delicate. The fact is that what makes the I Spit on Your Grave remake so vile is not its content, but its intent.

Though the title harbors some notoriety, you’d be hard-pressed to find many horror fans that would actually claim to enjoy the original film. It is a dirty, nasty, and altogether sleazy experiment in exploitation. There is no artistic merit or social commentary examined in the original and honestly nothing more to be mined from that story. But, as I often find myself the stalwart champion of remakes, I am not totally opposed to the idea of revamping the original film. My problem with this remake is that it exists solely for the purpose of sleaze profiteering.

I won’t deny that horror as a genre is currently experiencing some growing pains. The torrent of shock and depravity rolling out from festivals and, in some cases, into mainstream theaters is overwhelming. While these are not my favorite horror films, as long as there is at least an attempt at a deeper meaning or subtext to compliment the ghastly images on the screen, I am on board. I Spit on Your Grave offers no subtext, no new perspective on the perpetrators or the victim, and ultimately a weak payoff that leaves the viewer feeling somewhat violated themselves. Say what you will about the Last House on the Left remake, at least it took, for better or worse, some different directions and improved upon a truly shitty original; the same cannot be said for I Spit on Your Grave.

In a rape/revenge film of any era or ilk, there is a silent contract entered upon by the filmmakers and the audience. We as an audience agree to subject ourselves to scenes of one of the most heinous of all crimes in full awareness that the punishment of those involved will once again right our moral compasses and justify our endurance of the despicable deed. Or, failing that, the lack of true moral reconciliation will be at least artistic if not poignant. I Spit on Your Grave pushes misogyny to extremes in the first half and then lazily goes through the motions of the retribution; stealing from other horror franchises as it does. When the final credits roll, nothing feels settled and the stark lack of effort put into the production becomes painfully apparent. So in other words, we are forced to watch horrible acts of rape without the benefit of a satisfying comeuppance which only makes the first half feel more pornographic.

On top of all of this, the performances are flat and uninteresting, the cinematography is barely present, and the dialogue feels like it was written by a fourteen-year-old. The only thing the remake brings to the table, in comparison to the original, is to brazenly steal from the Saw films and shoehorn in a stolen plot device of the girl creating hackneyed traps for her attackers. It is obvious that the only reason this film exists is someone got a whiff of the current trend in horror and opted for the easiest possible way to cash in on both that trend and the name of the original film. I am disgusted by the fact that someone thinks that repackaging and marketing sleaze without any new angle or cultural variation is the same as making a film. I spit on this reprehensible piece of crap.

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.