I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

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*. Admit it, of all the ’70s horror film remakes that started popping up like mushrooms in the twenty-first century, this had to be the one you least expected.
*. And yet, why not? It’s a project that came with a widely recognized name, and the original was widely (if not always fairly) considered to be so bad it would be hard to imagine making a film that was any worse.
*. Speaking of the title, it’s funny to see Meir Zarchi still in there pitching for Day of the Woman. This movie had originally been planned to be called Night of the Woman. Yeah. No. The title is most of what this franchise has going for it, and what made it a success the first time around.
*. The taboo on full frontal nudity is back in place. The guys hide their penises and we only get one brief glimpse of bush. Of course we can see people having their eyes torn out or dipped into tubs of acid, but that’s not so bad as seeing human genitals.
*. There are none of the (few, and all too brief) grace notes of style from the original. Instead it’s just the same torture porn done in washed-out colours as became familiar during this period.

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*. As with so many body-count horror films, in the end you’re just watching people being tortured and killed. This is done in a gruesome, and highly improbable, series of mousetrap-style executions. Sarah Butler is not a big or very athletic-looking woman. In fact she strikes me as dangerously thin. So how is she lugging all these heavy guys around after knocking them out?
*. Butler is better than the material, but that is saying absolutely nothing at all. She’s not really convincing as the hard-ass avenging angel because she doesn’t seem psycho enough, or fully motivated. It’s like she’s going through the motions of vengeance. Maybe something was lost by cutting the scenes of her surviving on rats and bugs and stuff. But then again, probably not.

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*. There’s a nice shot where Matthew imagines seeing Jennifer as a wraith rising out of the swamp and she seems like a demon from a J-horror thriller. Unfortunately, this look isn’t followed up and the next time we see Jennifer she’s cleaned herself up nicely. She has some hair hanging down over her face but that’s it. Director Steven Monroe calls this her “Kubrick look,” though I’m not sure why.
*. Why cast a Welshman as a Louisiana sheriff? Andrew Howard does a decent job, but were there no Southern actors available? I’m always curious when casting decisions like this are made.
*. I thought the corrupt sheriff may have been included to make some kind of point about the inability or unwillingness of the police to take complaints of sexual assault seriously, or the way they blame the victim in such cases, but we find the same betrayal of authority in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) with the Lee Ermey character. There seems to be a general lack of confidence in, if not outright suspicion of, authority in the twenty-first century.
*. For what it’s worth, producer Lisa Hansen justifies the introduction of the sheriff as being a way of explaining the lack of police presence in the original, which I actually didn’t see as a problem. In the original film Jennifer makes a conscious decision not to contact the police, so their absence needs no explanation.
*. I like how Monroe, on the commentary, says that Jennifer’s dropping her cell phone in the water solves “that age-old thing, how do you get rid of the cell phone in the movie?” Of course it’s not that old a problem, but it has become fundamental, especially in horror films. Usually it’s just explained by low batteries or finding oneself in an area where there’s “no signal.” Being out of cell phone range is just one more problem with going to the country. Why do city people even bother?
*. Maybe it’s only the passage of time, but where I found the original film disturbing the remake just got me down. Of course it’s very unpleasant to watch, but it’s depressing as well. There’s rarely anything cathartic about the violence in these rape-revenge films, which may have some deeper psychological significance but which in any event left me not caring what the end was so long as some end might be.

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