|Jennifer (Sarah Butler) becomes victimized by a violent gang in Steven Monroe’s remake of 1978’s “I Spit on Your Grave.”|
I cannot defend Steven Monroe’s remake of the 1978 exploitation horror benchmark “I Spit on Your Grave as a great work of art, or barely a work of art at all. But at least his version of the nasty rape-and-revenge opus is better crafted than its crass and artlessly rendered original.
The simple plot involves a young novelist named Jennifer (a very brave Sarah Butler) who heads off to an isolated cabin to write. Local yokels spy on her, break into the cabin, then take turns raping her.
They intend to kill her, too. But she hobbles, naked and writhing in pain, on to a bridge, and falls into the water below. Her body is never discovered.
Later, Jennifer returns as an avenging warrior, no longer the innocent writer, but a malevolent spirit bent upon a rampage of raw revenge.
This woman doesn’t turn the other cheek, she burns it with lye.
Meir Zarchi’s original film with terrible sound quality and dullingly long, stationary camera shots lingered on the violent, sexual abuse of Jennifer, then whisked us through her retribution, the most graphic being her emasculation of an attacker with a kitchen knife while enjoying a bubble bath.
The remake reverses this by condensing the sexual attacks into a tighter, more powerful sequence while going the full monty on Jennifer’s surprisingly fantastic, diabolically contrived acts of fiendish revenge that owe a great debt to Jigsaw from the popular “Saw” horror films.
Significantly, Monroe creates more sympathy for Jennifer by having his lens take her point of view during the rapes, a rejection of the 1980s horror film formula that forced viewers to identify with assailants by viewing experiences through attackers’ eyes.
We have zero background information on any of the characters. We never come to know them or particularly care about them, not even Jennifer. She exists only to be victimized. The attackers exist only to be victimized back. (Read more…)