Dir: Steven R. Monroe, 2010
This review is of the uncut version
With Hollywood running out of ideas and remaking every horror franchise going, it was only a matter of time before they turned their attention to a real gut puncher.
Obviously being a remake, the plot is exactly the same as Meir Zarchi’s 1978 classic with only minimal differences.
Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) vacates to an isolated cottage to work on a novel.
While there, some of the locals take a liking to Jennifer and rape her, then leave her for dead.
But Jennifer is strong and survives the ordeal and takes revenge on her attackers.
Being made 22 years after the notorious original, it’s no surprise that they’ve updated certain aspects of the film.
With it now being the electronic age and the internet ruling supreme, the attackers film the attack on digital video cameras, in a style reminiscent of happy slapping.
What is unusual about the remake, though, is that it’s LESS brutal than it’s counterpart.
In an era where the aim is to push through as much violence and gore as possible, it was an ideal opportunity to film scenes of graphic sexual assaults, but Monroe takes a more subtle approach.
The original just went all out and kicked you in the balls, making no apologies for it.
It’s here that both directors sense of what’s important is on show.
Zarchi goes for the horrific, gut wrench that rape is. Monroe holds back on that focuses more on Jennifer’s revenge.
The latter version presents a more satisfactory end to Jennifer’s ordeal. Her vengeance and retribution is well deserved. You are on her side all the way.
Every punishment she deals out to the culprits has you cheering and wincing at the same time.
However, the former film doesn’t quite feel they got what was coming to them.
Apart from the castration scene, the rapists all get killed in relatively mild ways with little explicitness or gore.
Comparing the two, Monroe tips the balance in favour of the punishment of the victims.
Here, Jennifer drugs, ties, mutilates and uses an assortment of tricks up her sleeve. A bath and some acid has got to be seen to be believed.
Recreating the character of Jennifer, Butler does a really good job at portraying Camille Keaton’s iconic role. Sarah Butler is stunningly beautiful and lights up the screen.
Whereas Keaton was a little wooden, she ably showed the pain that comes with such an experience.
Butler has the ability to take it several stages further, and can make you feel the pain, fear, humiliation and dread that must go through everybody that has been a victim of rape.
This version is more polished and more technologically advanced, but that brings a negative to the film.
I Spit On Your Grave, regardless of which one you’re watching, is about an horrific act and the 1978 film was able to make you feel grubby and dirty with its low budget production and poor quality film. It, deftly, made you feel, ultimately, what rape is; vile and disgusting.
The 2010 film removes that grubby feel that was so present in Zarchi’s version and diminishes the impact. It doesn’t have that illicit “video nasty” atmosphere while watching it.
Of course, like it’s older self, the film was subject to censorship in some parts of the world, such as the UK.
Unlike the ’78 movie, the British censors weren’t so much concerned with the actual scenes of rape itself but, rather, the voyeuristic element to it.
Because the culprits record the attack, many shots are taken through the view finder.
The board felt that this gave the viewer the chance to see things from the rapists’ point of view and, therefore, the viewer BECAME the attacker. This allowed the filmgoer to enjoy the attackers’ pleasure and the victim’s suffering.
A few additional cuts were made to Butler being nude and humiliated.
After removing some of these shots (43 seconds in all) the film was granted an ’18’ certificate for cinema viewing.
It was this censored print that was released on DVD.
In an odd turn of events, the UK satellite TV station, The Horror Channel, broadcast a cut of the film that had more in it than the officially approved BBFC version but was still censored.
After a few complaints to the radio and television regulator, OFCOM (Office of Communications), the regulator decided to investigate.
For a film to be broadcast on British television, it must have been approved for home video by the BBFC.
The version shown on The Horror Channel was unofficial and so was in breach of UK law.
To help their case, a new print was submitted to the board based on the cut shown. The BBFC cut this version by 53 seconds; 10 MORE than the first submission.
Ironically, it’s only the BBFC that took this view and found something erotic about, so who exactly is it that they’re trying to protect? Us or them?
It’s an okay film. More professional than the earlier incarnation, but just not quite as good.
Definitely worth a watch.