This editorial contains major spoilers about the 1978 I Spit On Your Grave and its 2010 remake. Read at your own risk.
's I Spit On Your Grave is one of those seminal classics that you have to see to be a true horror fan. However, there's always been an unspoken condition: You have to watch it after viewing more important fare - Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, The Exorcist.
Despite its bruised-and-bloody reputation compared to its counterparts, I Spit On Your Grave is one of those movies that has a lasting impact. A lot of people chalk this up to the extensive, uncompromising rape scenes, and in many ways rightfully so. Still, the defined blocks that make up this beast are refreshing for a movie that wears its shocking intensions on its sleeve.
Jennifer is the epitome of urban dreams and concrete jungles as a successful, young, and beautiful novelist. When she decides to rent a home outside of the city, the traditional cliches of backwoods culture and inbred villains aren't necessarily present. Still, there's one disheveled gas station in town with a motley crew of local yokels taking advantage of a mentally handicapped kid.
The rest is one for the film books: After Jennifer's graphic, 30-minute long rape, she seeks revenge with maniacal determination. She uses her sexuality to lure, seduce, and violate the men who left her to recover emotionally and physically. She runs over one of her rapists with a boat while repeating the words he said when he raped her, "Suck it, bitch."
Fast-forward over thirty years later and we're seeing the same story, a remake by director . Like the original, it straddles the line of a wannabe film about feminism and reclaiming what was lost. More than anything, it reeks of predictability, whether you look at it as a female empowerment anthem along the lines of a glossy Christina Aguilera song or repulsive, gritty grindhouse.
Which is what makes the director's sequel to his remake, hitting the USA on September 24, that much more confusing to understand.
Instead of a novelist in the woods, the victim in the latest film is an aspiring fashion model who is abducted and taken to Bulgaria. While the first two films tackle darkest underbelly of the country sprawl in America, the remake's sequel allows us to place blame on "Eastern Europe."
The first film and even the remake are arguably both films that truly illuminate something about the way we view the abused, how we feel about redemption, and its consequences. However, in a case such as I Spit On Your Grave 2, the memory of the two precursors and the genre as a whole is spoiled.
I understand how viewing rape-revenge narratives could be considered a cathartic experience. But what I fail to understand is how a director could retell the same story without evolving the genre in literally any kind of way. If anything, it's a step back.