Sunday, February 13

Some quick thoughts on I Spit on Your Grave: Unrated (2010)

A backwoods yarn of rape and revenge...but little else.

Akin to what happens to one of the lowlifes in Steven R. Monroe's remake of Meir Zarchi's infamous exploitation epic, setting out to watch I Spit on Your Grave '10 is like walking into a bear trap. If you know anything about the 1978 original, it's obvious this undiluted revision will be an endurance test and Jennifer Hills' plight certainly still is. To their stylistic credit; Monroe, cast, and Anchor Bay Films stick close to the source material's naked brutality from both sides of perpetrator and victim straight on through to the box office compromising unrated theatrical run. Exploitation is still very much alive if this film is any indicator. The problem is, much like the original, it's hard to decipher any real point to the depiction of such ugliness.

Although the "ugliness" referred to isn't Hills' subsequent revenge, that's just your average modern horror torture, but the repeated rape of the character. This will reveal my viewing limitations, but I believe the topic of rape is impossible to make work in meaningful condemnation within the context of such shock exploitation. Films like Agustí Villaronga's In a Glass Cage (1987) and Gaspar Noé's Irreversible (2002) do a tremendous job of synthesizing the inhumanity of the act. Both I Spit on Your Graves merely hang their hats on the abhorrent deed as an additional layer of extreme not usually tread upon. I'm sorry, but "feminist cinema" my ass...

The amplified juxtaposition between the rape and vengeance is what hurts this remake. Rape is very real and very portrayed as reality here. It's utterly wince-inducing to the point your eyes ache as you reach for the volume and fast-forward buttons. The story then quiets way down as Hill simply vanishes and time passes as we follow the rapists trying to find her while trying to keep things hush-hush. The woman's re-emergence and scumbag entrapments are grounded in a sense of reality-based logical, but still end up feeling too easily carried out in their Jigsaw-like glee. It's all very "horror flick" and comes off as ridiculous when compared to prior events. Rape could be occurring right next door. Even between a married couple, or to a child, or the elderly. Duct taping a subdued man's head to a tree, inserting fishhooks into his eyelids to keep them open, and slathering fish guts on his face to attract hungry crows? What was that again? Saw 4, or Hostel 2, or Captivity, or...?

This is where Zarchi's original excels with its atmosphere of simplicity were a gun, noose, and knife were the embodiment of Hills' rage. Not prop-heavy orchestrations of torture killings with little desperate remorse or resistance shown by the rapists. Monroe's remake portrays the scenario with "real" wish fulfillment from the male rapist perspective and dream-like fulfillment from the female victim. A slap in the face to rape victims of both genders everywhere. And don't think the 1978 film is off-the-hook, it's still reprehensible toward the truth of degradation, just much less so when considering Hills' more earthy wraith and the film being crafted as pure money grabbing exploitation.

If anything, I Spit on Your Grave '10 is sure to rock the sensibilities of the unaware plucking it off Wal Mart shelves for the knife and butt cleavage on the cover. It's undoubtedly a better crafted and acted film than its source with a few welcoming psychological facial ticks. Although with lessened impact being in league with a mainstream reality of multi-million earning Saws and Hostels clogging screens and used DVD racks. Thirty-two years later, we've reached the plateau of ISoYG once again, and once again, its proven still too much.

Anchor Bay's DVD features a solid anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer preserving the film's (annoyingly) bleached-out appearance along with a Dolby 5.1 track. It's funny how DVD image quality has generally increased after the debut of Blu-ray. The standard definition format certainly isn't as good, but within its limits needless digital tampering designed to make the picture appear artifically better has lessened. There's zero edge enhancement or noise reduction to speak of to hamper the benefits of a good display and upconverting DVD player. The supplements mirror the Blu-ray edition with a director/producer commentary, sixteen minute making-of, deleted scenes, and trailers.                 

No comments: you dare tread upon the staircase?

Basement of Ghoulish Decadence, Basement of Ghoulish Archive, and all original material Copyright © 2009-present by Jayson Kennedy. All rights reserved.