I Spit On Your Grave (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus just wants to skip to the revenge part in this remake on BD...
Writer Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) rents a cabin in the middle of nowhere to write her next book. Intending on spending a few months alone while she works, Sarah is attacked and brutally gang raped by a group of locals, including the sheriff (Andrew Howard), and after narrowly escaping is presumed dead.
Not long after, strange things begin to happen to Jennifer’s attackers as their not-so-dead victim wreaks her revenge.
Despite not having seen the original 1980s movie, I knew full well what I was in for with this remake. I Spit On Your Grave is sort of renowned for its brutal gang rape scene (a large reason why I never ventured out to watch it) and with a remake landing in a time where horror seems to be allowed to go anywhere, watching this story unfold was uncomfortable to say the least.
The first twenty minutes are about as typical as they come: a pretty girl going out of her way to put herself in the unsafest situation in the realms of moviedom; a whole host of unsavoury characters being unsavoury for no real reason; and then a pretty hammy scene in which the three attackers (along with their mentally retarded friend) discuss the reasons why they can do what they want to the "big city bitch". This ain’t subtle by any means, but despite all that the moment Johnny (Jeff Branson) and his boys arrive on Jennifer’s front door step the horror of what’s about to happen to Jennifer sinks in and director Steven R. Monroe milks it for all it’s worth.
Now again, none of this is played subtle. In fact, lead attacker Johnny is playing it so big he may as well throw us some jazz hands for effect and his cliché “boys” are about as typical as movie thugs come, but that doesn’t really take away from the menacing situation because three intimidating men toying with a very defenceless woman in the middle of the woods is always going to be a nasty watch. Of course they break the tension for a bit with Jennifer escaping, but when she finds the small town sheriff and he takes her back to the cabin “to check things out” you know full well he’s not the straight up guy he appears to be, and when his “back up” is the boys again and the movie heads into the rape scenes, this remake goes all out to earn it’s stripes.
The scene is long, with the horrific situation unravelling as expected. If I’m honest, movies really only need to hint at rape themes and they leave a bad taste in my mouth, so I found this whole thing a bit of a tough watch even without it being as graphic as modern filmmaking could have pushed it. So when it comes to the second half and presumed dead Miss Hills starts picking off her attackers in weird and wonderful and of course fucked up ways, I was more than ready to watch these bastards get their comeuppance.
There’s a slightly overlong build-up to seeing Jennifer again and I found myself saying “Come on already” for about ten minutes, but when she does turn up I Spit On Your Grave turns into a fun ride with torture devices, bear traps, baths of acid, and of course the much advertised garden shear penis cut. What lets that all down slightly though is that I couldn't get a read on Jennifer's character in the second half in that I know why she’s doing all this stuff, but I didn’t really see a character there. I never really felt her anger or disconnection, she was simply fucking up her attackers and repeating some of the things they had said to her during her attack. In many ways it was like a ghost out for revenge as opposed to a real life person, which of course is probably intentional to a certain degree, but when she also seemed to take time out to do her hair between kills, nothing really added up for me on the realistic front.
The transfer here is stark and most of the colour has been blasted out with bright saturated light. Colours are there but rarely look all that natural, with blues muted to iffy looking turquoises and everything else left looking a bit off. Really the only shots that looked natural are the autumnal wide shots going into the woods.
The image is clean, but unless it’s pitch black night black levels look closer to murky dark blues, and beside the handful of super close up’s (like on Jennifer’s discarded gingham flip flop) detail is only really hinted at in certain elements as opposed to fully on show, leaving only Jennifer’s glossy hair or Johnny’s stubble popping in HD consistently, though there are a few texture moments that shine.
The style of the movie doesn't look unlike a movie version of TV's Supernatural (well at least the early seasons) in its visuals, and even though it looks pretty good overall in this HD transfer it’s maybe a little too stylised to sell the reality of the horrific situation in places.
A good direction here was to leave the score to a minimum, relying on the visuals to sell the horror. Because of this we have strong dialogue, sound effects and atmospherics and when the score does come in (usually to make you jump or to make you feel uneasy) it’s all the more effective.
Dynamic sound effects like “something” moving around in the woods or banging on the walls or creepy stuff like that sit well in the rear speakers building a wider space to make us feel all the more secluded. Chirping birds add to that and of course the attackers closing in make for a good use of surrounds.
Generally the track's show-off moments come down to screaming, grisly sound effects, begging for mercy and stuff happening off camera to freak us out. All of this works well and even though it’s not the fullest track I’ve heard, it’s an effective one for the most part.
There's not really that much to talk about here. There's 'The Revenge of Jennifer Hills' (13:22 HD), which is basic talking heads stuff with the cast intercut with on-set footage and then the teaser (00:59 HD) and theatrical (01:22 HD) trailers along with a radio spot (00:18).
If I Spit On Your Grave was the first horror I ever saw it would be quite effective I think. It gets the basics right and offers up enough visually disturbing moments to sit comfortable in the current horror crowd. However, this isn’t the first horror I’ve ever seen, so the paint by numbers set up and the curveballs it throws feel about as trodden in as a pair of old shoes despite having a truly horrific main event to hold onto to.
With little in the way of features, but solid A/V, I Spit On Your Grave is certainly worth a disturbing horror fan's time, but guys out there, you might not want to suggest this one for a Valentine’s Day viewing.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 7th February 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English
Extras: Featurete, Promos
Easter Egg: No
Director: Steven R. Monroe
Cast: Sarah Butler, Chad Lindberg, Jeff Branson
Genre: Drama, Horror and Thriller
Length: 107 minutes
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