'I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE' (2010): Four Stars (Out of Five)
Modern remake of one of the most controversial films of all time 'DAY OF THE WOMAN' (which was it's original limited release title in 1978, it was later retitled 'I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE' to capitalize on it's notoriety when it was given a major release in 1980). The film and it's 1978 predecessor both deal with rape, savage torture and murder. Both films have been highly criticized because of this with critics like Roger Ebert giving both films a zero star rating and calling the original a "vile bag of garbage". Almost an equal number of supporters (of the original film), including high profile critics, have raised their voices in defense of the film as well, with many labeling it a misunderstood masterpiece. Opposers of the film claim that it's man hating (with reports of some men walking out of the theater in disgust at both films) and some also accuse the film of glorifying violence against women (for it's violent rape scenes). Defenders of the films claim the movies are 'pro women' feminism and cathartic. People have been debating these issues for thirty two years and they'll probably go on debating them for longer than that and that's a good thing. If a movie causes that much discussion you have to give it some respect just for that.
Both films tell the story of a writer named Jennifer Hills (played by Sarah Butler in the new film and Camille Keaton in the original, Keaton is the grand-niece of Buster Keaton and won a Best Actress award for the role at the 1978 Catalonian International Film Festival) who heads to a cabin in the woods to work on her next novel. Once there she attracts a lot of attention from some hooligan hippies which eventually escalates in them braking into the cabin, raping her repeatedly and leaving her for dead. She unknowingly survives the viscous attacks and seeks out brutally sadistic revenge on all of the men involved, including a mentally handicap young man who was coerced into involvement by his buddies.
The remake was directed by Steven R. Monroe and written by Stuart Morse. The writer and director of the original film, Meir Zarchi, served as an executive producer on the film. Zarchi has said that he was inspired to make the original film after coming across a young rape victim in New York and escorting her to the police (which he says was the wrong decision considering how incompetent they were in the matter) and later the hospital for assistance. He defends the violence of the film as being completely necessary and rejects any criticisms that it is exploitative.
As far as the remake compares to the original film it's technically far superior on every level; it's better filmed, acted, written and directed (the original film had to manage with a much smaller budget though). The new film also shortens the rape scenes, in comparison to the much more explicit original, and relies more on psychologically implied imagery (which I think was a smarter decision). It also elaborates and extends the violent revenge scenes with much more creative deaths (much like many popular horror films). Where as the first half is more realistic and believable the second half branches much more into 'grindhouse' style revenge fantasy. While the film is much better than the original in all those ways it'll never be as remembered and cherished as a cult classic by fans.
I personally don't agree with the film's critics or it's supporters. I don't think you're supposed to necessarily agree with the heroine's actions or condone them and I definitely don't think you're intended to agree with the assailants' actions (that's a ridiculous argument). I think the film raises a lot of thoughts (most of them unpleasant) and discussion which like I said is something the films deserve credit for. A movie should never be judged by the actions of the characters within it, so however disgusting and disturbing they are (and in these films they're atrocious) it doesn't mean that they're bad films. I think both films are well made to a certain extent and effective at what they attempt to do. They're definitely not for everyone and very hard to watch but they're also memorable and dialogue inducing.
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