A Frightfest UK 2010 review
Directed by Steven R. Monroe
This 2010 remake of the legendary 1979 video nasty has already run afoul of the BBFC here in the UK, albeit with a paltry 21 seconds of film cut (most of which is extended rape by all accounts), much less than the original’s seven minutes when it was first released (it’s now less than three minutes).
This is a straight-up remake given the Hollywood gloss over. It chronicles the same story of writer Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) who visits a hillbilly town to begin work on her new novel and attracts some very unwanted attention from the redneck locals.
Intending on teaching the “city girl” a lesson, the locals abuse Jennifer in a brutal fashion, intending eventually to kill her. Luckily, though, she escapes before recuperating and returning to exact her bloody revenge in inventive and sadistic ways.
I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that I’ve not seen the original as I can comment objectively on what this new version is like, but this feels like every other Hollywood horror/remake of recent years, so whether it pays its dues to Day of the Woman or not is up for debate.
Considering the furor the original had and still has, I think it unlikely.
This is a reasonably by-the-numbers revenge tale, reminding me a lot of another recent video nasty remake The Last House on the Left. Indeed, from my limited memory of the latter, you could have told me this was Last House on the Left 2 and I would have believed you.
The first hour is a ponderous amble through Jennifer’s life and the eventual abuse at the hands of the locals is somewhat prolonged in a (failed) attempt to get you to really hate them.
Now, I’m not saying rape is ever not horrendous, just that it wasn’t portrayed anywhere as brutally as it could have been. I suppose that’s maybe what was cut and with it there could have been a much greater triumph to her later vengeance, alternatively perhaps even that wouldn’t have improved it.
The second (very best part of an) hour has not much happening before the last 20 or 30 minutes of it we get to the good stuff. Which, when done, ends abruptly. The pacing of the film was all wrong and any revolt at what was happening on screen to Jennifer, wasn’t fully realized.
Where I Spit on Your Grave does excel though is in Jennifer’s simple, yet intricately staged, retribution. Believable, yet clever, set ups made the crowd cheer every time one of her attackers died and the film is worth seeing for these alone.
I’d be hard pressed to wholly recommend seeing I Spit on Your Grave just for the finale…but I certainly wouldn’t possibly recommend that if you happen to be filtering out of another film and can sneak into the see the last 30 minutes or so before cinema staff catch you, then you might get a cheap thrill from it.