By Pete L. (New Hampshire)
I just finished watching Steven R. Monroe’s idiotic failure of a remake of I Spit on Your Grave. Any fan of the original movie who gave this one a thumbs up has certainly been dumbed down and politically corrected into the modern day Disneyland conformist corner wearing a dunce cap! The original movie was one of the greatest horror revenge movies ever released in American cinema. The reason behind this was that in the original there was actually some character development that made one care about the female victim. Also, in the original movie, the horrific assaults and torments that the protagonist was subjected to made the majority of viewers accept the brutal dispatching of her attackers one by one. I had feared when I heard of the remake that modern day hysteria towards the “evil sex offenders” would render the main characters victimization down to palatable mediocrity that would merely allude to brutal torment; oh boy, did I hit the nail squarely on the substandard head.
There has always been and continues to be a plethora of American films that feature graphic violence, bodily dismemberment, and murders by the bloody dozen. If one is capable of critical thinking, they will realize that they cannot count the number of films that actually graphically depict the inhumanity of rape and sexual assault on one hand. Now I think most have been programmed to condemn its depiction, which to a degree is understandable because many women, children, and some men have been subjected to sexual violence and it is disturbing to watch and can awaken trauma. On top of that, we have always been puritanical with anything that involves sexuality.
I am uncertain if there is a segment of the public that believes showing a very real, abhorrent human behavior can incite such actions, but if there was a grain of truth to that I think there would be no people left due to the daily media saturation involving murder and torture. We all seem to readily accept gore fests such as the Saw movies and its ilk where human beings life’s are snuffed out in the most obscene and horrific manner possible. I guess that’s all well and good as long as it doesn’t involve sexual violence. Not that I advocate more portrayals of the sexual victimization, but I have always see this as a shocking double standard.
Sexual assault and abuse can affect a person for the rest of their lives; however, a murdered person never comes back. Their family and friends are robbed of them forever, and it is a wound that never heals. Those folks are reminded on a daily basis when the media constantly bombards them with vivid recreations of how the lives of those near and dear to them were robbed from them for all eternity; but hey, that’s entertainment folks! Somehow, the general public condemns sexual crimes much more than they seem to condemn wholesale murder. Of course most American movies ensure that it is only the “bad people” that are butchered to pieces, although at times the villains) are featured killing many “good people” so the slayings are justified, and everyone gets to enjoy their graphic violence and feel good about themselves at the end of the flick.
The original version of I Spit on Your Grave was over the top in its candid portrayal of vicious sexual assault. The protagonist in the first movie was tormented, tortured, gang raped, sodomized, beaten, and abused in such a vile and compelling way that as the original movies trailer said “No Jury in America” (at least at that time) would convict her. Not only was the main character gang raped, her victimizers came back again and assaulted her in an even more abhorrent manner than the first time. What the main character was subjected to in that chilling, and horrific movie made viewers root for her and applaud her venomous, calculated, vengeance.
I have never been a fan of remakes, especially of movies of such gravity. I had feared that I would be disappointed before watching Dennis Iliadis’ remake of The Last House on the Left. I was almost sure that Americans intestinal fortitude had been so watered down through the rightful yet over sensationalized condemnation towards the crimes of rape and sexual assault, that it would lack the full horror of the first. That particular remake actually surprised me. It was equally as upsetting, off-putting, and disturbing as the original, at least in my opinion, and that really is the main thrust of a vengeance horror movie. I believe that you must enthrall the audience and get them to buy into the self-righteous vengeance of the victim(s).
Monroe’s version of I Spit on Your Grave was such a dismal failure in comparison to the original. In the remake, we learn that the main character portrayed by Sarah Butler is a writer only through her five second revelation to her abusers, and one of her redneck attackers reading about three sentences she wrote. So much for character development. Monroe didn’t put much if any effort into making me care about her, her life, or safety, and she may well have just been a prop on the set after that. While Butler’s character was certainly sexually assaulted by a group of men, it was a PG-13 movie compared to the original. In my opinion, Monroe completely defanged the impact and horror that made the first movie noteworthy. Don’t get me wrong here, Butler certainly was brutalized, but it was so tame, and toned down from the original version, it was as if he was trying to redress the wrongs of the original evildoers.
The original movie was unflinching in the stark portrayal of the cruel and malevolent actions of each and every attacker. Director Meir Zarchi went the extra mile to ensure that the audience felt complete and utter outrage toward each and every rapist. Monroe’s version was so hands off and sheepish, it left just about everything to the imagination. As a matter of fact the most gut wrenching sexual assaults he committed to this imposter of a film were those committed by the main character. In the original, Camille Keaton’s character was utterly brutalized, beaten, and bloodied to the bone, and it left the audience wondering if she could survive her wounds. In Monroe’s version, the victim was relatively unscathed and merely covered in mud when she jumped off the bridge. He completely failed to trigger anywhere near the sense of outrage that the first movie did, and it made the revenge such ridiculous overkill in comparison. It made it rather hard for me to accept and justify the violent brutality, butchering, and murders of her attackers.
Unlike the trailer in the first movie, every jury in today’s America would convict her of maiming, torture, murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault. Sexual assault is a horrible crime; however, sodomizing your rapist and blowing his guts out his mouth with a shotgun in his anus, ripping out someone’s teeth with pliers, or burning a guilty criminal alive in a bathtub of lye don’t fall under justifiable homicide in this day and age. I suppose that the main character kidnapping one of her abusers innocent children (whose fate is idiotically never revealed) from his pregnant and equally innocent wife before torturing, sexual assaulting, and murdering him is also completely acceptable in the vast wasteland of American culture. The level of brutality and vicious dismemberment of the attackers, who I agree were real scumbags, was grossly disproportionate to the level of violence that was meted out against her. Another huge disappointment in Monroe’s “fluff” version was the character played by Chad Lindberg. In the first movie, the mentally handicapped man was portrayed as much more culpable than Linberg’s character. The way his so called “buddies” coerced him into raping her was not only bullying, and abusive, they threatened to kill the victim if he did not comply. Linberg’s Portrayal made the character almost seem like a victim himself who wasn’t wholly culpable, and he clearly showed true remorse for his raping her. Unlike the first movie, where the disabled man was a perceivable threat upon finding the victim alive, his murder just didn’t seem wholly justifiable in my mind.
I also had anticipated that in modern America, Monroe would be forced to change the tactics of the hero (really?), by eliminating her use of seduction to lure, ensnare, and dispatch her victims. I guess that just wouldn’t be politically correct, but butchering, torturing, sodomizing, maiming, castrating, and murdering a group of assailants that had their way with her body is? While it is true that the Sherriff did intend on blowing her away, he did not; she escaped in safety, and then proceeded to plan the premeditated torture, sexual assault, and murder of her assailants.
It was really a terrible remake. It was almost as if the movie was just some public commentary or Monroe’s private opinion of what should happen to all sex offenders regardless of the heinous nature of their acts. The reason the revenge was accepted as somewhat honorable in the original was that the audience witnessed the atrocious acts of the perpetrators. It was an utter bomb, and the main character would have spent the rest of her life in prison for her crimes, and rightly so. Monroe should be paying me for the price of the DVD; it made a great Frisbee on its way to my kitchen trash can.