On the viewing list tonight, the remake of the legendary I Spit on Your Grave. It would make me sound way to pompous if I mention the original title "Day of the Woman", so that will not be mentioned. I will mention that with this being a remake, I see no problem with providing spoilers.
The most unfortunate consequence of doing a remake, reimagining, reboot, reissue or revamp, is that you will inevitably be compared to the original. Starting with the poster / box art, you get what is basically the same thing. Ass and knife. The revitalization does this pretty thing with negative space. I approve.
The following one hundred seven minutes introduces a real quandary. In nearly every way, this film is stunning. The writing was fun, the actors were incredible, the cinematography, the composition. The film had some faults to my eye, but as far as 'a' movie goes, it was much better then the original...
But I have a little problem.
There is one small area where the original surpasses the clone, and that is a context that was neatly reversed in this film. The story for both films is, writer goes to quiet cabin in woods, mislabeled sexual tension, awful rape scene, revenge.
Sarah Butler captures the same balance of fear, and a drive for survival that you see from Camille Keaton in the original. The protagonist who gets brutally raped is most certainly afraid, but during every excruciating second, the character is still keeping up hope that she will live through this. The rape scenes in this remake are very horrific. The lead up is dreadful as her assailants are exerting their control over her with innuendo and general sleaziness. When the rape happens, you are shocked and disgusted. If you have never seen the original, this will be genuine. If you have, this will be over how quickly it is over. This implies that if you saw the original you may be a real perv... Just keep up with me, will ya!
So, we finish watching a short rape scene. Bad ol' boys gotta get rid of the victim. The original was just botched, in this one she jumps into a river and is never found.
Brutal Vengeance follows. Many righteous kills abound as the Hell Woman dishes out an appropriate torment to our villains. This was so much more thought out than the original.
Maybe this would be a fine spot to get into the context now.
The original was for real. The rape dragged on so long because the viewer had to be disgusted. This was not titillation, this was meant to make you sick.
"This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition... but no jury in America would ever convict her! I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE ... an act of revenge" That was the tagline. When the victim delivers vengeance, it is to ask the audience, is this justified. The tagline takes you beyond the events upon the screen and wants to know if she'll ever have to pay for her crimes. Is there ever a time when vengeance would be allowed or even encouraged? I always end up wondering, even in the low grade slashers, what happens with the survivors? How does the girl explain being covered in blood and all her fellow camp counselors are dismembered?
This new one does so darned well, but I'm not asking myself "What happens later". I'm not invested in what she's going to tell the police, or whether she'll write a book about this and get away with murder. Considering how intricate some of her traps were, especially considering Shiva and I both figured out she was a bit of a klutz during the long and boring first half hour of the movie. Somehow she's manipulating these three guys like a special forces operative. It was so much fun watching her kill these guys, but I half expected her to come out wearing a scary mask, or maybe appearing in "I Spit On Your Grave II; Hawkin' Loogies". I think I'm not invested, because she is the slasher. She is the anti hero who mysteriously disappears during credit roll. She is a monster, albeit created by her own victims. When she kills, I get the sense that she's just fine now, bad guys go bye-bye, as opposed to the original where I wonder if she still wakes up screaming.
So how exactly do I rate something like this? I'm obligated to compare it to the original, which makes the new one look weak, and even heavy handed in its narrative. But if I field it on its own merits, it's a well thought out revenge flick with much better production value than any run of the mill slasher.
I guess I put it like this; Do you want to watch a fun slasher flick that captures the best of the genre? Watch this remake. If you want to wrap your head around some difficult moral questions, watch the original.
I'll give it two stars for that...
Info on IMDB: I Spit on Your Grave