TV / Movie Reviews

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: I Spit On Your Grave “2010”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Exploitation Horror/ Stars: Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg, Tracey Walter, Andrew Howard, Mollie Milligan, Saxon Sharbino, Amber Dawn Landrum/ Runtime: 108 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off by saying that the slice of cinematic pie that is the 2010 take on the controversial horror film I Spit on Your Grave, or as I like to call it Day of the Reimagining, is a slice of cinematic pie that utilizes pretty much the same narrative as the original from 1978, shines it off with a degree of shine and polish, and then proceeds to ratchet up quite significantly the bloody and truly brutal and visceral acts of horrendous violence that will most assuredly have even the most iron stomached movie goer extremely uneasy watching this. Yet more remarkable than that though is how this remake manages to push out the pathos and potency of the original movie and in its place put….next to absolutely zero. Yes I guess I should give this film a prop or two for how shiny this one looks as well as for a few icky moments that the gore gonzos amongst you will endlessly enjoy, but this remake or rather reimagining manages to land with a resounding thud and completely be unable to make much of an impact in the same way that the original film did with its target audience. That and if I’m being honest: the original wasn’t exactly crying out and begging in any way to be remade since some slices of cinematic are best left untouched and film helmer Meir Zarchi’s iconic and most assuredly not for all audiences cult hit is one of those. Sadly, I can say that film helmer Steven R. Monroe’s take is one that is not meant to have the same shelf life as the first film since even though yes it does have a better sculpted narrative, and better skill both behind and in front of the camera, none of that is worth the mud on a nickel if you don’t have some kind of emotional investment in the thing.  Yes this take on the story most assuredly will make you want to see justice meted out to the gang of rapists as well, but it doesn’t feel like the vengeance is genuine. Rather, this slice of cinematic pie feels like it is just checking all the necessary boxes and seems to be more obsessed with being better than the original movie in every way. Unfortunately whilst mostly successful in that attempt it forgot one area that is perhaps the most crucial and the key reason this slice of cinematic pie fails to work on the level that it ultimately could’ve: it forgot to provide us a motive for why we should even care in the first place.

The plot is as follows: The film tells us the story of a young woman by the name of Jennifer Hills as she heads out from the daily chaotic grind of the city and trades it in for the tranquility of the country in the desire that the peace and serenity will help her finish her latest literary work that she is engaged in writing. To that end, we see that our intrepid heroine finds herself involved in a slight issue with a gas station employee named Johnny that is more embarrassing than anything. However, when Johnny’s backwoods group of pals discovers that one of them has in secret filmed our heroine without her knowledge, they decide to come a’calling, a visit that whilst she initially feels at first is icky and unnecessary revenge for what happened at the gas station quickly and horrifically spirals into something far worse. Suffice it to say that after suffering a fair degree of pain on both a physical and psychological level, our heroine is able to get away to find aid only to horrifically discover the aid isn’t much help since all he does is take her back to the crime scene for the gang to further engage in their despicable machinations with her. Suffice it to say that, due to assuming they have killed her, we see our group of fairly cautious men resume their day to day lives. Yet it is not long thereafter that a certain resurrected, very determined, and extremely t’d off victim to come back into their lives with no more and no less on her mind than brutal yet also righteous revenge.

Now the big distinguishing factor in regards to the narrative of this take and the one from 1978 is that this one give us a lot more time with the rapists in the aftermath of their atrocious deeds rather than with our heroine who was their unfortunate victim. Oh and it also has the addition of another member to the group since….well honestly I have no idea, but if I had to guess I would say either contributing a unique twist on genre conventions, lure audiences in with a fake vibe of security when he is first introduced, and also it does provide the remake with a way to get the original’s trademark kill into the mix. Now to this film’s credit, it does handle the moment where the rape occurs in a way that is actually not as bad as it could have been….if that means anything. Indeed there is a much more significant degree of unease and suspense in the build up here than in the original movie, but the performers also do a fairly good job of acting it in their respective corners: the men as dirty scum who think this and their petty psychological torment is “all in good fun” and our heroine as someone who is completely and utterly terrified out of her mind in regards to what these men have in store for her. At the same time it should be noted that this take on the story takes a few cues from the original in how unyielding and unwilling to hesitate in any respects. No the rape scene is not as elongated and hard to watch when it begins as in the original, but it manages to be as brutal as it needs to in order to get you to strongly want to see this girl put these scum through the agony and hell they rightfully deserve. Yet this film makes the bold choice not to jump right into that and instead chooses to make her attackers the focus of the 2nd half as they try to cover up their heinous act and, as time goes by, eventually start to erroneously believe that it’s all over thus making it that much more satisfying when our heroine “comes back from the dead” and shatters this false vibe of security like a baseball bat to a glass window. Yet with all of this though, the main dilemma the film faces is that, unlike in the original, the vengeance doesn’t quite have the same applaud worthy quality to it and as such the overall movie feels like it is just simply checking all the necessary boxes and moving from slaughter to slaughter in the final third of the film.

With that in mind, it should be said that other key distinction between this slice of cinematic pie and the 1978 adaptation is the astonishing degree of visceral content contained within and that also is quite a bit more potent than anything the original chose to provide us with….at least when it comes to what is shown. I add that last part because even though the original film is one of those that has a distinct reputation for being quite brutal, the truth is that the vast majority of the violence is usually off-screen. I mean aside from the water filling up with blood, and an axe making contact with a person’s flesh that is about the extent of what you see onscreen aside from the rape. In this one however, the movie doesn’t shy away from showing us any of what is going on aside for one moment where our heroine decides to remove….something with some shears, but even that is quickly followed up with a moment that will have every man who watches this EXTREMELY uncomfortable (speaking from experience guys). Indeed this slice of cinematic pie’s final third operates as no more than just a collection of Saw-esque moments that lets us, with no spoilers, witness as our intrepid heroine get back at each of her attackers in a way that is distinct to them on an individual level. Indeed in many respects it is (especially in one death) eye for an eye, but again this slice of cinematic pie manages to fumble the ball and negate the aspects that would make this worth applauding and instead seems content for you to come away with no more and no less than a little smirk on your face at being able to see justice finally get its day to be served no matter how brutal or visceral said justice may ultimately turn out to be.

All in all let’s just take a moment here to recap all of this for you movie lovers: so take what has for a long time now been seen as one of the definitive adore or burn in a dumpster fire slices of cinematic pie out there and give it the remake treatment. This go-around however negate to put in all the aspects that those who adore the original adored in the past whilst ratcheting up all the things that those who hate the original hated in the first place and what you get is a slice of cinematic pie that has a significantly smaller audience than it did before. Suffice it to say then that this take on the story is one that concerns itself primarily with the violence and, to a lesser extent, the repercussions from it. Indeed this is one unyielding and quite visceral albeit also sadistic ride that even though it will see you applaud the main heroine you will do so because it is the right thing to do and not because she is a character you can empathize with or because the film operates on your emotions in the most basic way possible. Suffice it to say then for as horrendous as the rape is and as perversely delightful as the main heroine’s vengeance may become, it simply doesn’t have the impact on an emotional level that the acts in the original did. That therefore is why I can say that the 2010 take on I Spit on Your Grave is not only proof that it is unable to respect the original slice of cinematic pie in 1978 in any way, shape, or fashion, but also offers up further proof that perhaps some slices of cinematic pie should not ever see the remake express coming their way anytime soon if ever. On a scale of 1-5 I give I Spit On Your Grave “2010” a solid 2.5 out of 5.