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John’s Horror Corner: I Spit on Your Grave

July 6, 2011

Hello all. Mark here. I watch pretty much every horror film worth watching. I skipped this flick though. I stopped watching the torture flicks right after Hostel Two stunk up the theaters. It makes me happy that co-writer John Leavengood watches most of these films because I get to read the reviews and not worry about watching the movie. Read the review! Enjoy it! Maybe even rent it.

SIDENOTE: I did watch the film I Saw the Devil…However, it is Korean so I can write off the torture parts as adding to my foreign film pretentiousness.

John’s Horror Corner: I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

By John Leavengood

MY CALL:    The original was better in some ways and bested in others.  That said, if you’ve ever enjoyed the exploitation or gore-porn subgenres, then you’ll probably favor this movie.  I don’t know how to rate exploitation films objectively and would avoid anyone who can.  But if you like any of the movies listed in the “IF YOU LIKE…” entry below, then pop some popcorn, watch and enjoy.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:    Funny Games, Hard Candy, the Saw series, the Hostel series, The Last House on the Left (1972 original & 2009 remake), I Spit on Your Grave (1978, the original).  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:    If you find this detestable then I have no advice for you other than to avoid movies whose plots are fueled by rape and torture.  It shouldn’t be hard.  Just look for the “Family” section at your local Blockbuster.

            This is a remake of a boundary breaking movie which enjoyed a spotlight of the controversy questioning that which may or may not be acceptable for theatrical release.  I started out skeptical as to how “intense” this flick would be.  The resurgence of exploitation movies has allowed more raunchy, socially questionable elements all over again, but like all genres it can be quite a mixed batch in terms of quality and effective delivery of such provocative material.  The remake of The Last House on the Left was entertaining, but more so for the revenge scenes of the victem’s parents than for the hard-to-watchness of the rape scenes (not that I particularly enjoy rape scenes).  It’s just that the original felt more “real” and tested my moral thresholds while the new one simply depicted some brutal, hard-to-watch-by-topic-alone sort of scenes…like Saw or Hostel; purely gratuitous and meant for those who want just that.  I guess I want more from my over-gored movies—more intensity.  I like to feel “tested” when I watch things intended to be off-putting.  You know what did that to me?  The you-know-what scene from Hard Candy (I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it).

            The plot is simple.  Some writer-or-something chick rents a cabin in the wilderness.  Some hillbillies who enjoy a good game of catfish baseball essentially dare the most debonair of the bunch into trying to get that stuck-up city girl.  Some breaking and entering…and a whole lot of rape.  She runs, they find her, and rape her again while one lightens the mood with his harmonica music.  Finally, she zombie-walks away with a 28 Days Later twitch in her gait and escapes.

            Some considerable efforts were made to humanize the brutal assailants.  How charming it was when the sheriff’s mass rape choreography was interrupted by a call from his daughter who was disappointed because he “always makes breakfast before church on Sundays”.  But “Daddy’s real busy, honey.  Tell mom I’m running late”.  This was most likely done to horrify viewers with the concept that such a twisted, nigh-soulless side could be subletting the same mind as a loving husband and father.  During the rape scene, two of the other assailants express sympathy for their victem, all be it briefly and followed readily by desensitization through brutal, carnal satisfaction.

            Well, after her escape she becomes a monster and hunts and tortures her assailants one by one.  The scenes start out feeling like a PG-13 version of Saw or Hostel, but the scenarios become more elaborate, creative and intense with each successive victem (more fun, too, for gore hounds).  They are generally over-staged and unrealistic for a 110-pound girl to execute alone on the shear basis of heavy lifting—but, whatever, I was entertained.

            When they decided to pursue this remake they didn’t pull any punches on the casting.  While the femme fatale star (Sarah Butler) is essentially a nobody willing to show a lot of skin, the assailants are all played by real, second-string, recognizable actors: Daniel Franzese (Mean Girls, Party Monster), Andrew Howard (Limitless, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Limitless), Jeff Branson (The Young and the Restless, Guiding Light, All My Children), and Chad Lindberg (Push, The Last Samurai, The Fast and the Furious).  The camerawork and film editing are inconsistent at best, but I was shocked by a few brief shots which I would be tempted to call good cinematography moments.  In the end Michael Bay beat these moviemakers to the punch on the subtitle: Revenge of the Fallen.

The ending lacks the element of female empowerment and sick charm of the original (a boat ride on a sunny day), but makes up for it with more creative vengeful cruelty and torture.  If tough-to-watch is your game, then this flick’s for you.

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