Saturday, October 8, 2016

Film Review: I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

I Spit on Your Grave (Review)
United States/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Starz
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"...a suspenseful, unnerving, and violent horror film."

Big city novelist Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) drives to a secluded cabin to finish her next book, unaware of the dangerous locals prowling the area...

I Spit on Your Grave begins with Jennifer driving up to her cabin. Unfortunately, she gets lost prior to arriving and she's forced to ask some locals at a gas station for help. While doing so, she humiliates a young man (Jeff Branson) in front of his friends. She thinks nothing of it and proceeds to her cabin – where she drinks, smokes weed, and, of course, drop her phone in the toilet. It happens to all of us, right? Who needs a phone in a secluded cabin anyway, right? So, these young men show up at her cabin and rape her. There are a few twists here and there that I'll skim over for your sake, but Jennifer returns to exact her revenge. It leads to a bloody, unforgettable ending. The ending, however, also feels rushed and underwhelming – it leaves too many unanswered questions.

Let me preface the rest of this review by saying: I Spit on Your Grave is a dumb movie – and I mean that in the least offensive way to all of the filmmakers involved. There's just no way to get around it. This is a film that expects too much from the audience. It expects you to believe clumsy Jennifer, who can barely hold her phone, can return as a heartless mastermind with cunning skills; it expects you to believe these cold-hearted rapists, who meticulously planned their original attack, can become complete and utter fools within a month. It is a film riddled with unnecessary plot contrivances and inconsistent characters. There are gaps in the film that the plot never bothers to fill, either – that's a smaller but still irritating flaw, though.

I can't say I hated I Spit on Your Grave, though. Despite its conveniently foolish/clumsy characters, the film manages to leave an impression. There are many scenes filled with suspense. The 'focal point' of the film – for want of a better word – is raw and unnerving. The second half requires to suspend disbelief even more than the first half, but it still hits a nerve thanks to its uncompromising portrayal of vengeance. I'm not exactly an average viewer — I don't say that to gloat, it's just that I've watched a lot of extreme horror movies. So, I will say, this film will shock many 'average' filmgoers.

The acting was good, too. Sarah Butler plays Butter Fingers Jennifer Hills. She is a bit too heavy-handed at times, but she performs well enough. Jeff Branson and Andrew Howard deliver powerful performances as the despicable antagonists here. The film was shot well. It has a very gritty atmosphere thanks to the subject and setting. The music blended well with the film. This remake is written by Stuart Morse and directed by Steven R. Monroe. The writing could use a lot of work. It's a competent and simple story, but it relies too much on its foolish characters. It's not very consistent, either, and it became repetitive towards the second half; Jennifer Hills essentially recites the same dialogue from the first half every time she kills someone. Monroe's direction fares better, though. He develops an ominous atmosphere, he crafts suspenseful scenes, and he leaves an impression.

Overall, I Spit On Your Grave is a good vengeance film. It's a suspenseful, unnerving, and violent horror film. The plot is flimsy and underwhelming at times, though. Don't expect deep or intelligent characters, either. It's no I Saw The Devil, but it's not bad for fans of the genre – especially those who don't nitpick much.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, nudity and rape.

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