Released: 2010 Directed by: Steven R. Monroe Cast: Chad Lindberg, Sarah Butler and Daniel Franzese
I Spit On Your Grave Unrated is one of the best horror remakes I have ever seen. Usually, I refuse to see most remakes, especially if the original still holds up ie. Nightmare On Elm Street. However, for the remake of I Spit On Your Grave, I was intrigued from the beginning.
The original 1978 film Day of the Woman by Meir Zarchi became a cult classic over the years mostly due to its cultural significance. The film was one of the first rape/revenge films that allowed for the woman to gain power, attempting to reverse the audience’s voyeuristic gaze onto the man. Apart from this however, the film is viewed as a bad movie: poorly shot, with terrible acting stemming from a bad script. This is the kind of film that screams for a remake, an opportunity to improve the original, but also a challenge to provide a satisfying revenge to a more desensitized audience.
The story remains the same. A woman from the city, Jennifer Hills, arrives in a small town to rent a cottage for the summer so she can work on her novel. She encounters some local rednecks, and they stalk her, break into her cottage, and then proceed to sexually abuse and gang rape her. She later seeks her revenge, by torturing and finally killing each of them.
The remake starts off the same as the original and is nicely shot in the same style with muted colours, and a grainy film quality. Sarah Butler is very well cast as the new Jennifer, a quiet but strong screen presence that we emphasize with and later cheer for. The first half of the film is slightly different than the original but not enough to really notice. A crooked sheriff is introduced into the mix, allowing for a longer build up in the first half, strengthening the narrative. The original rape scenes were shot borderline pornographically, but the remake holds back, understanding what is necessary to depict for scenes that are already disturbing enough.
The transition to the second half of the film is wisely adjusted to be longer. Jennifer disappears for a month after the ordeal, allowing for a more logical approach to the story in an attempt to explain how she becomes strong and plots out her revenge plan. The tension is allowed to build and the voyeurism slowly switches over to the female viewer, as the male characters now become the victims. The second part of the film is when Jennifer returns to enact her revenge on the rednecks, and she does so with a much fiercer force than the original. The original was heavily criticized for the way in which Jennifer seduces the men first before killing them, taking away some of the satisfaction from a female point of view by degrading her further before her redemption. In the remake, the revenge is much sweeter because she does not seduce them but returns as an unstoppable force. Jennifer encompasses the role of the hero, giving the female viewer someone to cheer for. Her actions are validated because of the need to balance out the horrors of the first half of the film, making the revenge scenes much more satisfying. The tables are fully turned here for once, modernizing the film and allowing the female viewer to enjoy the male voyeuristic position. Unlike torture porn horror such as Saw and Hostel, the revenge scenes are not just glorified violence but are creatively brutal, mirroring the attacks on her and directly relating to each of the redneck characters.
I Spit On Your Grave Unrated succeeds as a remake for it not only successfully modernizes the violence but transcends the horror genre by accomplishing what the original could not: reversing the gaze from the female to the male and opening the doors to a new kind of voyeurism.