DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

I Spit on Your Grave (2010): Unrated DVD Review

I Spit on Your Grave (2010) movie poster I Spit on Your Grave

Theatrical Release: October 8, 2010 / Running Time: 108 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated (Alternate Cut: R)

Director: Steven R. Monroe / Writers: Stuart Morse, Meir Zarchi (motion picture Day of the Woman)

Cast: Sarah Butler (Jennifer Hills), Jeff Branson (Johnny), Andrew Howard (Sheriff Storch), Daniel Franzese (Stanley), Rodney Eastman (Andy), Chad Lindberg (Matthew), Tracey Walter (Earl), Mollie Milligan (Mrs. Storch), Saxon Sharbino (Chastity), Amber Dawn Landrum (Girl at Gas Station)

Buy I Spit on Your Grave (2010): DVD Blu-ray / Buy I Spit on Your Grave (1978) from Amazon.com: DVD Blu-ray / Buy Both in 2-Pack: DVD Blu-ray


Horror seems so much more prone to remakes than other types of movies. Though it aims more to shock than to scare, I Spit on Your Grave belongs to the genre and now, that controversial 1978 rape/revenge thriller has been remade. You're forgiven if you hadn't heard;
resisting an MPAA rating, the new I Spit on Your Grave played in just twelve American theaters last fall, a release comparable to the obscure ones given its predecessor. 2010's I Spit is now getting wider notice on DVD and Blu-ray, where it recently debuted, though it'd be surprising if it were able to attract the reaction and reputation of its divisive forebear.

Somehow, the poster and trailer for the original I Spit mistakenly counted five men as being responsible and held accountable for the gang rapes at the heart of the film. There were really just four, but, in its most significant change, this new filming adds a fifth and makes him the most heinous of all. Once again, our protagonist is Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler, former Disneyland Belle), a young author looking for a quiet place to write a novel. She picks a remote, rusty, rural small town and comes to regret it when nearly every male encountered there teams up for a home invasion and brutal group sexual assault.

In the country to write her second novel, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is disturbed by a home invasion. Antagonists Johnny (Jeff Branson) and his cronies Stanley (Daniel Franzese) and Andy (Rodney Eastman) are gas station employees/rapists.

Three of Jennifer's assailants work at a gas station: ringleader Johnny (Jeff Branson) and his two obedient cronies, stocky amateur videographer Stanley (Mean Girls' Daniel Franzese) and the unshaven, harmonica-playing Andy (Rodney Eastman). They are joined by Matthew (Chad Lindberg), a virginal, mentally handicapped handyman (a grocery delivery boy in the original film) they pick on but tolerate. The new addition is Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard), who at first sight appears to be a knight in shining armor. In fact, though he is a law man and a family man, with an expecting wife and a sweet young daughter at home, the sheriff is every bit the violent misogynist that his backwoods buddies are.

As they must, these men force themselves upon Jennifer in every way imaginable, letting fetishistic show horse talk and gun and liquor bottle fellatio stand as foreplay. Before they can finish the job and shoot her into oblivion, Jennifer vanishes, leaving nary a trace. When she resurfaces, over a month later, she does so with a vengeance, prepared to get justice with one bloody kill after another.

I Spit on Your Grave represents the biggest credit to date for director Steven R. Monroe, who put in ten years of camera operation (beginning with shows like "The Wonder Years" and "Pee-wee's Playhouse") before calling the shots mainly on made-for-TV and direct-to-video fare. The ways in which Monroe departs from his inspiration for the most part make sense. Instead of the three successive rapes endured in the original, we get just two here and neither is nearly as prolonged as the ones from writer/director Meir Zarchi. Monroe's version is more polished dramatically and visually; his handheld, high contrast photography strives to provide a harrowing atmosphere. The probably unintended camp value of the 1978 film is not recreated here, even if some dry, dark humor inevitably creeps in to keep the upsetting design from overbearing.

Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard), a character invented for this remake, commands the men in evidence destruction. Jennifer (Sarah Butler) gets her revenge on gas station ringleader Johnny (Jeff Branson) in bloody, dramatic fashion.

As in the original, the first half of this remake is tough to watch. On display are some of the lowest forms of human life ever scripted. Viewers can do no more than cringe and wince at the awful antics of these irredeemable creeps. That is exactly as intended, because it's the only way the film could rally your support
for its homicidal second act.

In Zarchi's film, which he claims was inspired by a real-life encounter with a violent rape victim, there was some kind of cathartic thrill to the retribution, even as it ludicrously involved enticing the rapists into compromising situations. Here, the second half is just as insufferable as the first and possibly even more so. For that we can thank contemporary cinema's "torture porn" craze, which has seen movies in the Saw and Hostel series upping the ante for gore and imagining increasingly twisted ways to torment its characters. That is what 2010's I Spit on Your Grave is all about and one senses the picture's top priority was coming up with creative ways to off the lowlife rapists.

Zarchi's Jennifer (Camille Keaton) took pleasure in her slayings and was creative and calculating. But she wasn't anywhere near as exacting and sadistic as the 21st century Jennifer, who repeats specific taunts that were hurled at her and tailors her revenge to fit the methods of each of her violators. Though her lips curl into self-satisfied smiles, I can't imagine those of viewers doing the same, unless you're some kind of a splatter fiend, in which case I worry about you and wonder why filmmakers today cater to and encourage your tastes.

I'm not compelled to condemn torture porn and its enthusiasts beyond that. It's better to get your jollies watching a gory movie than going out and committing atrocities against people and/or animals. I suspect that movies like this aren't really doing much more than desensitizing, which much of cinema has been doing for ages now.

One last issue that factors into the remake's obvious lack of joy lies in the performances. Sarah Butler isn't very believable as a writer; with suspended disbelief, she's slightly more convincing as a badass. The opposite is true of her male co-stars; they are too credible as chauvinistic redneck pigs capable of rape, murder, and evidence burial. They don't seem to be exceptional actors (if they were, they'd probably not be doing this movie); they're just believable enough to abhor every second they're onscreen.

An R-rated cut of I Spit on Your Grave was passed, citing "pervasive strong sadistic brutal violence, rape and torture, nudity and language." As far as I can tell, though, it wasn't released to theaters and now it also hasn't been released to DVD or Blu-ray.

I Spit on Your Grave (2010): Unrated DVD cover art -- click to buy DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.97
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.99 SRP) and in 2-Pack
with the Original 1978 Movie on DVD ($49.98 SRP) and Blu-ray ($59.99 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

I Spit on Your Grave may be unpleasant to look at and hear, but that is through no fault of the DVD mastering. The 2.35:1 widescreen picture is often muted, but always extremely sharp and clean, allowing you to admire every gruesome prosthetic effect in great detail. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also fine, delivering a bit of tactful ambience and, unlike the original, some scoring.

Steven R. Monroe discusses his big directing break in "The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon." Jennifer (Sarah Butler) defends herself with her blow dryer in this lighthearted deleted scene. The lack of MPAA rating was something of a selling point for the film's limited theatrical campaign.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Extras begin with the Set Up menu's audio commentary by director Steven R. Monroe and producer Lisa Hansen. Not the boisterous celebration of gore you might anticipate, Monroe and Hansen offer a surprisingly rational conversation on their film, its adherence to and departure from the original and the logic that went into what to show/say and what not to. Focusing very much on what's onscreen, Monroe also shoots down some criticisms leveled at his movie.
One gets the feeling that in any other genre, these filmmakers might display skill you could appreciate.

"The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon" (16:22) gathers comments from cast and crew regarding the original film and what their involvement in this remake meant to them. It is more telling and thoughtful than the film itself leads you to expect.

A reel of Deleted Scenes (11:44) consists largely of disposable character moments, including more of the guys. There's no unused torture or rape or anything remarkable here.

For trailers, we get a 1-minute teaser and two longer previews (1:20, 1:40) promoting this remake and its unrated state.

The extras conclude with a 15-second radio spot, a rare inclusion for a modern film.

The disc opens with a vintage trailer for the original I Spit on Your Grave and more recent previews for Frozen, Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine, Stonehenge Apocalypse, and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. None of these can be accessed from the menus.

The main menu runs Stanley's first-person video camera footage, while submenus offer a static, silent variation on that design.

Beaten, bruised, bloodied, raped, humiliated, dirtied, and nude, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) prepares to vanish without a trace in the 2010 remake "I Spit on Your Grave."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

From a technical and dramatic standpoint, 2010's I Spit on Your Grave appears to be an improvement over the film it lovingly remakes. But while it may be more precedented, its graphic content is fundamentally flawed. The over-the-top revenge appalls just as much as the brutal rape which precedes it, rendering this whole experience an excruciating one that few stable people will want to endure even once.

Ignoring the nature of the film, Anchor Bay's DVD is of satisfactory quality. But you can't ignore the nature of the film; you must ignore the whole thing. While I didn't loathe the original movie, the distance it's been provided lends it some kind of historical curiosity. There's no such redeeming feature here and therefore I can think of no good reason you should subject yourself to this.

Buy from Amazon.com: DVD / Blu-ray / Buy the Original: DVD, Blu-ray / 2-Pack: DVD, Blu-ray

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New: I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (Unrated) Paranormal Activity 2 (Unrated) For Colored Girls Welcome to the Rileys
2010 Remakes: And Soon the Darkness Let Me In Piranha The Karate Kid Death at a Funeral
The Disappearance of Alice Creed Frozen Friday the 13th (2009) Vacancy Gun Winter's Bone

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed February 24, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Anchor Bay Films, CineTel Films, and 2011 Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.