Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 4: I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

The original "I spit on Your Grave" is a favorite movie of mine. I get a lot of weird looks when I say that. Normal people can't understand why I'd want to watch a movie where a woman is brutally raped and then takes grisly revenge on her attackers, and horror fans piss all over the movie because of its tiny budget and amateur acting. To the first people...what can I say? If a movie shows a rape at all, I want it to be brutal and chilling and disturbing and haunting because that's what rape is. If you don't want to watch the movie, I understand, but please don't judge me for finding value in a movie that shows evil and shows someone crumbling under its weight and then fighting back. To the horror fans I simply say that while the acting can be bad at times, I believe Camille Keaton's performance as a woman trying to put herself back together after a horrible brutal attack, and watching her revenge is disturbing but also kind of rewarding in a sick way. I see so much evil in the real world that from time to time, I enjoy watching people kick evil's ass in movies. When I was ten years old, I remember staring at the cover of the original movie in the video store and wanting to watch it to see why it was banned in so many places...what was so disturbing about this movie that so many people worked so hard to keep other people from watching it? While I'm glad I didn't watch it when I was ten (it's a bit much for the middle school set) I still remember the power of that movie cover, the image of a scantily clad woman covered in blood walking through the woods...totally vulnerable, she seems, but yet she manages to overpower strong evil and get her revenge. I wanted to see that then, and I'm grateful to have the chance to see it now. Is that sick? Maybe, but that's me, and hey, it must be other people too, because look, they made a movie for me and all the other sick people to watch. Cool, huh?

All that is to say that I find myself defending the original "I Spit on Your Grave" a lot, and defending my right to watch it and find value in it, but as a fan who works so hard defending the movie all the time, I was stoked to hear about the remake, mostly because I was kind of hoping that the remake, with its bigger budget, might be able to bring something better to the story. Fresh eyes, a new perspective, a plot with fewer holes I can drive a truck through, you get the idea. I'm happy to report that this is one remake that improves upon the original movie. As much as I like the original ISOYG, the acting can be horrendous at times, and the actors in this movie are a lot better. They're all virtual unknowns, which works for this kind of movie where you wouldn't want to see big-name actors distracting you from the nastiness onscreen. The dialogue flows more easily and is more believable, and without spoiling anything, I'll simply note that the "revenge" portion of the movie is a lot better in this version. Still kind of unbelievable, but not as utterly ridiculous and requiring your suspension of disbelief to run itself into overdrive the way the original does.

For those who were worried, the rape is handled well in this movie. The camera shows enough brutality to make us long for the victim's revenge (I was worried the rape scene would be toned down for this version, but while it doesn't show as much nudity as the original rape scene, it does convey the brutality of the attack very well). There's also more of a build up to the attack in this movie that makes it seem more realistic. The men who attack Jennifer in this version of the movie are clearly bullies (they bully each other and torment the weakest member of their bunch right from the beginning) and I think it works better in this movie than it did in the original because the attack was a progression from mocking each other to fighting amongst each other to getting pissed at the woman to deciding to teach her a lesson. Don't get me wrong, the men in this movie are still neanderthals from the planet caveman, but in this movie the attack clearly escalates and grows out of their already bullying and violent behavior, so it doesn't seem like such a stretch as it does in the first movie, where the plot basically goes "what should we do tonight, boys? Hey, there's a woman, let's rape her! Hooray!"

This is a tough movie to stomach, I'll warn you of that. The attack made me flinch. Either I'm getting weak in my old age (it's a possibility) or some aspects of the rape are worse in this movie than they were in the original. The revenge is also really disgusting in this movie and I swear to God it's more brutal than I thought it would be (all I'll say is that these guys quite literally go all to pieces when their victim gets her revenge, and the camera lingers and makes us flinch and possibly vomit, and I seriously can't believe they put some of this stuff on camera, but I give them mad props for doing so). Those of you who worried that this movie might be tame, let's just say you have nothing to worry about. The filmmakers don't flinch or skimp on the brutality here. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more vomiting to do.

In conclusion, if you have a strong stomach and you want to see a movie that shows "good versus evil" (or "good being tainted by evil..." or both) give this movie a watch. I love horror movies. I like walking through the darkness and coming out on the other side unscathed. I find value in that experience. This movie definitely isn't for everyone, but if it is for you, that doesn't make you a bad person. Come over to my house and we'll pop some popcorn and watch the movie together (that's right, the dark side has both cookies AND popcorn now...don't you want to join us?)

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