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November 10, 2012

I Spit on Your Grave

by Franz Patrick

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
★★ / ★★★★

Jennifer (Sarah Butler) was a writer who decided to rent a cabin in the country to write her next novel. On the way to the cabin, she stopped and asked for directions at a gas station. Johnny (Jeff Branson), the attendant, flirted with her but only to be shut down. As his ego took a beating, his friends (Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman) laughed at him from the sidelines. A couple of days later, the trio, along with intellectually challenged Matthew (Chad Lindberg), broke into Jennifer’s cabin to humiliate and rape her on camera. A remake of Meir Zarchi’s “Day of the Woman,” “I Spit on Your Grave,” written by Stuart Morse and directed by Steven R. Monroe, sacrificed slow build-up for more violence which did not always work for itself. The tone could have been more interesting if, like the original, we were allowed to meditate with Jennifer as she spent her days in complete isolation: jogging, sipping wine, writing. Allowing us to occupy her mindset then breaking that ennui with something so shocking and horrifying could have made a statement. Watching Jennifer get tortured by such depraved men was no fun to watch. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be. I looked forward to the moment when she would finally get the upper hand. Her humiliation, being forced to insert phallic objects in her mouth and get beaten, felt like it lasted forever. I began to feel a sinking sensation as the graphic images invaded the screen. It seemed like she was finally going to get some justice when she ran into Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard) who happened to be hunting for animals in the woods. Lopsidedness was my main problem with the film. Jennifer’s torment and the events that led up to it was about an hour and twenty minutes long. That left only slightly above thirty minutes for Jennifer to get her revenge. There was a big difference between the two in terms of pacing. The men having the advantage felt slow, while the woman having the advantage felt almost rushed. Furthermore, the filmmakers missed the point of the story. Looking at the events more critically, the young writer’s method of revenge toward each person reflected the actions that were done to her with respect to each man. For instance, when she was being raped, one of the men tried to cut off her oxygen supply. When it was her turn to inflict damage, she used a rope to choke that same man. To me, revenge isn’t about equality or balance. Revenge is about being possessed by catharsis–or a semblance of it–until we begin to question, if at all, when enough is enough. Watching this movie was like solving simple algebraic equations: subtracting a number on one side of the equal sign was hand-in-hand with subtracting the same number on the other side. It felt controlled when it should have been wild, it made sense when it should have been nonsensical. “I Spit on Your Grave” relied solely on the images presented in front of us to generate horror instead of developing the complicated questions in our minds about trauma and justice. Yes, it was repulsive, which was partly the point, but it failed to move beyond the obvious.


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