The 1978 original film “I Spit On Your Grave” was a product of its generation. It was exploitive, bold, perhaps a little silly but it made its mark as the ultimate, infamous revenge/rape flick ever filmed. I thought that a remake would be unnecessary but to my surprise, I enjoyed this 2010 re-issue. The film’s tagline remains the same; “...No Jury Would Convict Her” but truth be told, Camille Keaton didn’t have tons of movies that have the label “torture porn” to inspire the original film. This remake’s kill scenes are much more sadistic, brutal, elaborate and immoral than in the 1978’s version. It sticks to the main premise, tweaks some areas and loses all nonsense and possibly improves on the original.
Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is a young, beautiful novelist who decides to go to the quiet, isolated countryside to write the follow up to her first book. When she goes for gas, a bunch of rednecks, led by the crude, womanizing Johnny (Jeff Branson) cannot stand being turned down by a beautiful city girl and assumes that Jennifer is some sort of snob who looks down on their small town. The group begin to stalk her, harass her, humiliate her and finally they savagely rape her, one after the other, again and again until they have their fill. But before they can finish off Jennifer and get rid of the evidence, she falls off a bridge and disappears into the watery depths below. Weeks go by and the despicable group skulk the woods for any signs of her remains but nothing is found. Jennifer is alive and now payback is coming….
It is hard for me to state the reasons why I liked this remake and everyone knows that I don’t like remakes most of the time. After 2010’s “True Grit” seems like remakes or re-writes are finally earning what they are supposed to be; an expansion, improvement on an original film, making them more polished and fitting for a new generation. “I Spit On Your Grave” does improve on the original’s basic premise; yes, it misses some issues but for sure it made do with some major improvements.
The original was a product of exploitive grind house cinema (and no true cinema fan can say he's a cinema fan if he hasn't seen this movie), while this remake is more like a horror film. It feels more real and quite frankly disturbing in the way that it expresses the scenes of rape with emotional content rather than stooping to exploitive nudity and violence. I have to tell you, the original film was one of the few moments that I didn’t enjoy seeing a woman fully naked and I looked away at the sheer brutality of the rape scenes. 2010’s version is no less brutal but the rape scenes are shorter and arguably less exploitive, but no less effective in portraying the pure pain and humiliation of sexual assault.
In the original film, Jennifer (as played by Keaton) underwent a change of character as the viewer is taken to witness her evolution to a figure of violence. You see Jennifer become someone else in order to exact her revenge. Well, the remake it takes a different approach and it makes Jennifer more of an enigmatic figure of vengeance. Sarah Butler disappears for a time, no one knows where she went until she was ready to confront her torturers. Her moves does make sense as you finally figure out where she went and how she planned her revenge. Yes, we miss the parts that Jennifer abandons her ‘innocence’ and becomes a brutal figure and this makes this movie very different. I still haven’t decided which one made it better.
Also, in the original, Keaton seduced her victims into a false sense of security as she uses her sexuality to lure them in. This was the thing that I didn’t buy from the film, I know it was a commentary on the male’s stupidity and how it embodies feminine wiles, but realistically, I really don’t think rapists would expect sexual attention from someone they had brutally attacked. I thought this part of the original was silly and far-fetched though Keaton was convincing in her portrayal. This time, Sarah Butler goes for the jugular and while she does lure them in, the way she captures them is not through seduction but an act of violence executed with perfect timing. Jennifer was humiliated, battered and raped repeatedly, so this approach on her part made more sense.
Jennifer’s attackers also appear to be much more wantonly prone to acts of despicable behavior this time around. In the 1978 original, it seems like they looked like simple folks who happened to act upon their baser instincts, and while they humiliated Keaton‘s “Jennifer“, they talked about her rather than talking to her. This time around, Jennifer’s attackers are much evil and conniving from the get go. They insult her directly during the brutal attack while they shoot the assault with a camera; the violence they inflict is very disturbing and unflinching as they humiliate Jennifer to the max. It makes it easier for the viewer to root for this version’s Jennifer. It also helps when Sarah Butler looks like an intelligent, simple, normal girl next door; Butler is impressive as she vividly portrays the pain of the attacks, she shakes, she fights and even blacks out for a bit during the second assault. You could feel the physical torment this girl is going through, you see the raw pain in her eyes., which makes her more effective emotionally in the narrative. The direction by Steven Monroe was more invested in the psychological effects of such an attack while Meir Zarchi wanted a cruel, unrelenting motion picture in 1978.
The original was more raw and perhaps even edgier. But this remake had the right things going for it and I truly liked what I saw as it improved, expanded and made the film feel more real. It corrects some of the silly missteps of the original and has enough iconic shots and dialogue to pay tribute to the original movie “Day of the Woman”. Hey, it also has its share of twists and gives a few surprises. The revenge part threatens to become a sort of a modern day slasher, but I don’t mind this at all since all the basic blueprint is intact. The original felt sleazy, rough and rather amateurish in some areas, but it was part of its charm; this remake feels much more cinematic and definitely had more dramatic 'punch'.
So is this remake a better film than the original? There is no easy yes or no answer to this one. They are films of their generation. I guarantee though that 2010’s “I Spit On Your Grave” is a worthy remake and makes something I thought unnecessary, necessary.
Recommended Timidly Because of the Material Portrayed; Not a Movie With Strong Replay Values [4 Out of 5 Stars]
I remember seeing the posters for this one when my buddy Chris and were hanging out in Cali for the Weekend of Horrors horror con. I can't say I was thrilled at first when I hard the news although I had known it was just a matter of time before some schmuck saw reason to remake yet another cult film fave. I still was hellbent for election on seeing this film and even had hoped that I'd be able to catch it in the theaters. No such luck. I had to wait for DVD like everyone else but at least … more
I'm not the kind of person that is turned on by the posters for this movie but they ALL advertise falsely, I mean don't expect to see the poster chick in the movie ... It's the kind of bait and switch that leaves you cheering for the bad guys.
A remake of the controversial 1979 cult classic, I Spit on Your Grave retells the horrific tale of writer Jennifer Hills, who takes a retreat from the city to a charming cabin in the woods to start on her next book. But Jennifer’s presence in the small town attracts the attention of a few morally deprived locals who set out one night to teach this city girl a lesson.
They break into her cabin to scare her. However, what starts out as terrifying acts of humiliation and intimidation, quickly and uncontrollably escalates into a night of physical abuse and torturous assault. But before they can kill her, Jennifer sacrifices her broken and beaten body to a raging river that washes her away.
As time passes, the men slowly stop searching for her body and try to go back to life as usual. But that isn’t about to happen. Against all odds, Jennifer Hills survived her ordeal. Now, with hell bent vengeance, Jennifer’s sole purpose is to turn the tables on these animals and to inflict upon them every horrifying and torturous moment they carried out on her... only much, much worse.