The original I Spit on Your Grave, aka Day of the Woman, was a horrid film. An extremely slight but repugnant story, produced and filmed in a totally amateur and artless manner. It’s one of those exploitation films that have survived due to a legacy of notoriety far more than its limited, virtually non-existent, artistic merits. Eventually, like all famous horror films, it was going to get remade. That happened in 2010. The new version of the film could be called an improvement, in that it was at least professionally shot and appeared to have reasonable production values for a film of its type. Still, it was a horrid movie. Now that remake has generated a sequel (something the original failed to do, at least in an official sense), and guess what? It’s horrid.
Rape and revenge movies are always going to be a tricky proposition to pull off; it’s a simple, very unpleasant, yet entirely predictable story arc; (1) woman is (gang) raped, (2) woman survives and recovers, and (3) woman finds and kills her rapist(s). The I Spit on Your Grave films present this scenario at its most mindlessly simplistic, offering no original spin on this set-up at all. Maybe we should be thankful that this is only the third film in the series (though there’s a short, little-known unofficial one from 1993 called Savage Vengeance). It’s a scenario that could be easily and endlessly repeated, churning out film after film for years.
Still, there are many examples of films within the ‘rape and revenge’ banner finding things to say, or imaginative ways to shock the audience. Just recently we’ve had The Skin I Live In and American Mary, two very interesting horror movies that use rape-revenge for a baseline.
So, we all know what the story of this film will be from the get-go. This time our victim is an aspiring model who’s recently moved to New York. She responds to an advertisement for a photo shoot, but after turning up finds the photographers unsettling and leaves, only to have them track her down to rape, torture and abuse.
This film doesn’t add anything significant to this type of story, however the scenes of sexual violence here feel greatly extended, taking up a lot of the already overly generous running time. Indeed, there are multiple instances of it, and the film’s interest in them seems to far outweigh the revenge in the third act. It goes so far as to have her escape once only to be recaptured and raped some more. I’ve never liked the label much but this is the type of film that deserves to be called ‘torture porn’.
By the time we finally get to the revenge segment, the film has already outstayed its welcome. There’s not even anything inventive about the methods she uses to dispatch her vengeance. Also the bad guys are all foreigners (Bulgarian), targeting an American, inviting comparison to the dreadful Hostel movies. It seems like a lazy way to help its intended audience identify with the lead, as the film makes no effort to get us invested in her character otherwise.
The film does contain one moment around halfway through that’s something of a surprise, but if you think about it for about 10 seconds it makes no sense at all.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 is a thoroughly unpleasant experience to sit through, an overlong film concerned with nothing other than thoughtlessly portraying gratuitous scenes of rape and torture, and doesn’t even come up with anything new there. How some people can argue that this kind of crap is ‘feminist’ is beyond me.