Jan 20, 2011
No intellectual property is sacred anymore. Moaning about remakes is the new "Bush Hate", a siding so common that the effect and idea of petitioning remakes has become redundant. The idea of a remake some decades back was not met with such dynamic disgust, what with blogs being available at each and every fingertip, the notion of a revisionary splurge used to intrigue not alarm. From John Carpenter's The Thing to 2009's Last House on the Left, the definition and standards of remakes has been redefined to emerge with malignancy, no matter the quality of the spoken film. Not only are creative ideas refused funding in our current market but butchery is an option available only to an auteur, one with vision. These previously noted films are great in their own regard, one could argue better than the predecessors, and they still push the boundaries of censorship as their ancestors did in the past. So in some scrambled way, remakes are actually furthering the capabilities of the commonplace art form. Something most of you would never 'fess up to. In this regard, I will examine the newest remake of an exploitation classic, I Spit on Your Grave.
Meir Zarchi's capitalizing view on the materialism of the female body was hailed as a controversial, albeit important, notch in the annals of sinema. Camille Keaton portrays Jennifer Hills, a writer who escapes to a cabin to absolve inner-city turmoil with her latest novel. Of course, as the story goes, a woman cannot do so much as finish a chapter before she is degraded, chased, taunted, and repeatedly raped in almost comical fashion. The country boys in the 1978 version are dated buffoons that do not digest well to this generation's fans of horror. What's worse is the enactment of down syndrome is laughably "retarded" in Zarchi's version. It has been quite some time since I had seen a rape/revenge film so I wasn't tenderized to the sexual humiliation as my normal disposition would confess. This revival of the rape-classic doesn't fool around in any sense starting out. The film opens with a young, beautiful writer escaping down long stretches of silent roads in the back country. Played by Sarah Butler, this Jennifer Hill is endearing, adorable, and something that Keaton could never pass off, innocent. In the previous ISOYG, the fetishism of domination waxed right off. The depictions of assault were silly, and don't cry disgust quite yet cause I'm not finished. The scene in which Keaton escaped into the woods only to discover them waiting was outspokenly comic. It barked and hyucked at her misfortune as did I. Surely she can't be that stupid. In Steve Monroe's makeover, this same scene is presented with horror and suspense, completely absent from the original. Hell, just the handgun fellatio scene shocked me, and to think I felt blanketed with steel nerves. Once the hollow tunes of the harmonica hit Ms. Hill's ears, as well as ours, that brief moment of relief dissipates and turns into a frightfully erotic scene of sexual terrorism - complete with anal rape, which seems to be this decades favorite taboo.
From here is where the remake sputters into all-too familiar territory. The revenge aspect of I Spit on Your Grave seems to be the spoiled half in Monroe's edition. The decision to take plausible feelings of contempt and murder and direct them to the nearest slaughterhouse embellishes while detracting from the previous act. The confounded tortures enacted on behalf of the little girl that was ravaged by a group of men, one she put her trust in as well, serve to punish the audience and not the victims. The message of I Spit on Your Grave is a very confused one. As a supporter of vengeance, Hill's methods of dispatching her attackers were a mockery of the horror genre. While something as simple as seducing and castrating proved to be wholly effective and horrible in the original, Monroe insults us by having such strange and unbelievable persecutions await the offenders. While The Last House on the Left's re-imagining was guilty of the same (microwave anyone?), I Spit on Your Grave is a film that I had hoped would prove to be above the imitation of torture. I'm only hoping some feminized disgrace to the male gender chooses not to spit obscenities towards me for not dousing this review in undeserved sympathy. I don't venture out in the shallows of escapism for I expect every possible curve-ball life might through at me and a part of me would consider a fault of Ms. Hill's own as to how she got in this mess.
The great debacle is built up through several key moments in the beginning of I Spit on Your Grave. Stopping at a gas station dolled up seems to be begging for attention as I'm sure was her motive. I don't see the purpose of Ms. Hill's applying of glittering lip gloss in the middle-of-nowhere. Nor do I respect her kissing a mentally challenged boy, just doesn't seem right with his plight in mind. This moment does aid to her final solution of the backwoods rapists, however. Getting barebacked outside of a muddy hole seems to be Jennifer's area of expertise as her writing is dreadfully awful. No wonder the boys took so kindly to the "big city cock-teasin' whore". Not to let my personal feelings of spite mixed with brackish brutality poison the good fun to be had in this envisioning, I Spit on Your Grave is a new age treatment of a genre with a life of its own. Steve Monroe disappoints in the second half with third grade suffering gags but relies on the strong opener to row this title home. You can take this film however your morality sees fit. For me, various instances of erotica were tapped, of course for the seedy side of eroticism, but I can imagine this being a hard film to enjoy, or condone for that matter, for the average fan of the cinema. Like Chaos before it, some people don't "get" the intrigue of one of the oldest transgressive acts there is, rape, and prefer their escapism to be sugar-coated and not as bleak as the world around them resonates. I, for one, will not cower.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 12:42 PM
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