I am celebrating Spooktober with a horror movie each day and I began the month with “I Spit On Your Grave”. This is the 2010 remake. My plan isn’t only movies I haven’t seen, but I plan on expanding my “horror” film horizon’s a little further even though in general it’s not my preferred genre. I prefer the psychological thrillers, those that leave more to your imagination that the visual scary or jumps out and scares you horror. “I Spit On Your Grave” falls into the torture porn/slasher genre of horror. It’s not my cup of tea, but I went in with the hopes of enjoying the payback because this is a story of vengeance and empowerment. Rah rah-rah.
“She’s just an innocent girl!”
A lot of these types of films feature a lot of exploitative violence and gruesome torture and death. I’ve rarely experienced actual fear or tension for main character’s themselves because there’s usually very minimal character or plot development, and that can work if the characters are likable, but often they are so annoying or unlikable that I’m rooting for the bad guy, or even worse….I just don’t care what happens either way and therefore am ambivalent to their fates. I’ve also seen so many of these types of slasher/torture brand that the deaths don’t gross me out or scare me.
“I Spit on Your Grave” begins like so many horror movies. Cute, seemingly innocent college type girl heads to the woods ALONE for a purpose you don’t really care about. On the way, she meets extra creepy and offensive rednecks that give you that sense of “danger” and no dental plan. It’s a common start, but unlike a lot of these film types we begin with the “final girl” and it takes a little bit longer for some of the bad to start happening. Theoretically, this should make some of the bad things that happen to her have more weight, giving the eventual turn of tables have that much more of an impact.
“What? They came in here and they assaulted me!”
The 1978 version is known for being one of the more brutal horror movies of its time, featuring a rare and aggressively violent rape scene, which is the cornerstone of the tale. This version is a little bit more balanced and the pacing works a lot better, if less gritty. While the balance and structure of this version make a lot more sense, and timing and pacing are more on point the “final girl” is still transparently dull. The violence used on her was horrific and the torture difficult to sit through and there’s absolutely a sense of pure disgust you develop with the hopes that each of her assaulter will pay in a far more brutal way for their crimes, I would have been just as inclined to have “read” a summation of it rather than watch, but I think this boils down to my dislike of torture movies.
The third and final act of this movie gives you just that. Our girl isn’t hiding in the woods or running to the police and our broken system. She takes matters into her own hands and while you are cheering for this vigilante justice giving these sicko’s a little comeuppance it does feel like something we’ve experienced before. That also traces back to the one-note cinematography. Visually, the black and gray hues are identical to any horror movie you’ve experienced before. I could have turned on “Wrong Turn” and not known the difference for thirty minutes. When you turn on a Freddy or Jason movie you know immediately. This was a soulless trip to anywhere America.
“Sorry, Sheriff. It was fun while it lasted!”
Overall, “I Spit on Your Grave” was not a bad remake and even made some improvements in its development and balance, but it lacked a passion and charisma that make these types of films have a real impact. I’m not a fan of the “Hostel” films, but I can appreciate exactly why they became the sensation they were. It’s not a bad watch and certainly a fine choice to turn on for this sort of thing, but as far as I’m concerned it will get lost in time among much other noteworthy horror flicks, including the original (even though this one was actually superior as an entire film) which really exists as an original twist and a shockingly brutal rape scene. If this genre is your cup of tea, definitely worth a watch, but otherwise mediocrity and nothing new to discover here.
Rating: 2/5 Stars