The idea of homicidal rapists nestled in the backroads and byways of Uncle Sam’s somewhat southerly states is not the freshest of concepts. The atrocities they are willing to commit when a pretty girl invades their stompin grounds…well.., we’ve seen this one before too. In all honesty, we’ve seen almost everything here before. Somehow though, Spit ends up working better than it should if nothing more than its simple reversal of gender in its final revenge scheme. It’s not bad enough to be ostracized for being weaker, less socially adept or just having weird hobbies. We know this and some readers may even know this a little too well. It is the idea of being targeted for something so completely beyond your control that the very idea of it is inescapable and infuriating. This is where Spit actually succeeds. You hate the antagonists a little more here and you revel a little more when theirs finally comes around. This is in essence the crux of a revenge picture, and that is what this is once you peel away some of the more horrific elements. I Spit on Your Grave is able to keep its roots in a couple of camps while still calling to the core horror audience. It suffers from the simple convention of being a movie of its time, but it does so with solid direction and ample performance from its lead and co-stars. It might not leave your jaw gaping in the end, but it might put a guilty sneer across your face in the form of a nice little shotgun crescendo that puts a literal and grisly twist to ass-to-mouth.
The 2010 remake of the 70s schlocker hit does exactly what it sets out to do. It shoots straight on the original premise while giving the audience a bright new shiny wrapper to wash it down. Revenge is a greedy lover. It doesn’t just go for the tit for tat one-uppance of high school rivalries and sibling disagreements. It puts flaming bags of dog shit on your doorstep while it deflowers your sister.
Sarah Butler steps into Camille Keaton’s shoes as the titular character Jennifer Hills. Jennifer is a novelist come to clear her head and write her latest book to the backdrop of some good old fashioned peace and quite.. out in the middle of fuckin nowhere. The middle of “fuckin nowhere part “ is of course where Ms. Hills’ fate takes a sharp turn into torture porn territory. After a chance run in with some local boys (i.e. that oh so charming brand of Kentuckian miscreant that wears equal part bathroom Drakaar and doe rut with his camouflage tuxedo…and just in time for prom too… he’s so dreamy!!!) our heroine becomes the target of the homicidal hillbilly rapists and takes a Greg Louganis offa Backdoor Holler bridge… resurfacing a month later to give these mudafuckas some well deserved what for.
I’m not for sure if it was with regret, cynicism or contempt that I realized about halfway through I Spit on Your Grave that I was watching it through the eyes of an entirely new generation. I was no longer discovering a film of its ilk by word of mouth and bringing it home on a Friday night to later tell my friends Monday morning how I watched the most fucked up videos that past weekend. I was watching it through the tinted lenses of someone who has sat through the dimestore vulgarities of countless straight-to-video Hostel ripoffs, Texas Chainsaw wannabees and ingrate, “guess who’s watching you from the hills”, my momma was raped by nuclear, moonshine swigging, incest lovin, prom date killin hillbillies with an insatiable bloodlust. Don’t get me wrong. I love my horror. I love it in its simplest, nastiest, bone crushing glory. So, when people fault Spit for using the brutality vehicle as a novelty… well, what choice did it have? Today’s audience and cinematic brutality are old bed fellows. So have we seen it all before? Yes and no.
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