Vengeance can be a real bitch!

by Jim Davis

It’s a title that sends instant recollections of one of the most brutal & torturous horror films ever made, a title that is infamous to all horror junkies alike. I still remember from when I was a kid, pulling down the original I Spit on Your Grave (1978) VHS tape from atop the entertainment center where it was poorly hidden. The visions that were burned into my young mind still remain fresh almost three decades later, it was one of the most unflinchingly dark, utterly disturbing, nightmarish and uncomfortable films of the century. I would have to say the rape portrayed within is as nasty and uncomfortable enough to match any other film I’ve ever seen. I can only imagine the reaction of some of the audience members during screenings of Meir Zarchi’s cult classic in its theatrical release in 1978.

When Steven R. Monroe decided on the remake in 2010, my curiosity was unparalleled and my expectations were high to see the difference of interpretation of the times, considering how much the horror genre has evolved and changed over all these years, sort of building up a mainstream tolerance with the addition of more and more films in the vein of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Saw and Hostel. Audiences have become well accustomed to the level of violence, somewhat similar to the original I Spit. That said, Monroe blew the doors off theaters with his masterful remake in 2010 which very much lived up to it’s predecessor and in some ways even far surpassing it, much of the success lied on the shoulders of the superb performance of young Sarah Butler, certainly her breakthrough performance.

I Spit on Your Grave 2
Directed by
Steven R. Monroe
Cast
Jemma Dallender, Joe Absolom, Yavor Baharov
Release Date
20 September 2013
Jim’s Grade: B


Taking all of that into account, it’s a safe bet that most viewer’s expectations going into I Spit 2 are going to be set pretty high considering Steve Monroe is again in the director’s chair. There is one thing worth noting here and it’s the fact that unlike the original film written by Meir Zarchi and it’s remake which was essentially a carbon copy of Zarchi’s script with Stuart Morse’s name attached, I Spit On Your Grave 2 is a completely fresh reboot from writers Thomas Fenton (SAW IV) and Neil Elman, a producer with a few Sy-Fy channel scripts under his belt. These changes are definitely noticeable as the I Spit 2 sequel serves up slightly less graphic rape scenery and to some extent lacks the very sharp uncomfortable edge that the first two films leave you straddling. In no way am I saying it doesn’t deliver the expected smörgåsbord of graphically violent and downright uncomfortable scenes, it did, but it failed to rattle me mentally as much as the previous film had. It didn’t quite fully enrage me during the rape scenes, possibly because I wasn’t able to fully connect with Katie’s character. Not that this makes this a bad film in any way, but it did play a role on how emotionally charged I was at times during the film. Some hardcore fans may feel this was too soft compared to the last and I admit that I also believe that to some extent, but let’s be honest, at some point you have to pull back on the degree of brutality just a little or your audience window will narrow into little more than a sliver of the most hardcore horror hounds and as one of those fans I get that.

As the story goes, Katie (Jemma Dallender) a very beautiful young woman looking to break into the modeling business ends up with a phone number of a photographer Ivan (Joe Absolom) and after a quick call she agrees to come downtown for a photo shoot free of charge. When Katie shows up, things don’t go as planned when they insist she pose nude, she abruptly leaves, but not before getting the attention of Ivan’s brother Georgie, who becomes obsessed with Katie. Later that night, Georgie (Yavor Baharov) , who got Katie’s home address from the release form she had turned in at the beginning of the shoot, ends up at her door with a handful of pics that were taken before the nudity issue arose. Katie reluctantly takes the pics and after some urging finally gets Georgie to leave, only to awaken in the middle of the night to see Georgie sitting in her dark bedroom filming her.

They immediately struggle violently and in the process, make enough noise to draw the attention of a neighbor/boyfriend Jayson (Michael Dixon). After stabbing Jayson, he binds and rapes Katie while her boyfriend lies watching on the floor bleeding out. When Georgie calls his brothers for help, Katie ends up being smuggled out of the country and sold out for further sexual abuse and torture by some seriously sick-minded individuals. Left for dead, badly beaten, battered, bruised, and broken, a stroke of luck gives her the chance to regain herself and take brutal vengeance upon all who harmed her, torturing each of them similar to the way in which they abused her, only she’s so, so much more motivated.

Everything else was all pretty tight, production values, cinematography and score were all befitting for the making of a solid horror flick. One I surely recommend, but only after you catch the 2010 remake version first. This is a horror fan’s film, if you’re not sure if you fit into that category, you may seriously want to serve up something less explicit.