Friday, February 4, 2011

I Spit On Your Grave, 2010, On Blu-Ray 2011

I’ve got to tell you, I have seen a lot of brutal, gory films in my life, but the DVD Blu-ray release of the 2010 version of I Spit On Your Grave is among the top of those films. It is hard to watch, excessively gross at points, and a total mind freak of a movie. I hated it, yet at the same time, I loved it. At times I couldn’t watch it, yet, I couldn’t not finish this movie, (I did have to stop watching a few times). This remake of the 1978 Cult Horror Film in many ways surpasses the original. I Spit On Your Grave is more than a Revenge flick, it is a thought provoking exploration of pay-back and revenge. There is a focus on the horror some inflict on others. There is also commentary on the religious state of some of those at the forefront of terror, hate, and the lack of respect for others ultimately resulting in, if looking, hypocrisy.

The premise for I Spit On Your Grave is quite simple. A young attractive writer rents a cabin in the wilderness in order to work on her next novel, a habit not unusual for writers. She runs into some individuals at the local community gas station and they decide to have what they think is a little fun. Unfortunately, their fun gets out of hand and turns into the brutal rape. Jennifer Hill played in a horrifically beautiful way by Sarah Butler lives through the attack and executes in her way, revenge, not just revenge though, but revenge which has her asking for forgiveness for her sins before she commits them, and executing revenge in a manner similar to the sins and crimes committed against her. The revenge in this case, in a literal way, shows that revenge is hell.

This is in some ways a simple story, but with complicated and difficult themes to watch and think about. While at times brutally difficult to watch, Director Steven Monroe does a nice job of retelling the story based on the former movie and story by Meir Zarchi. He does such a good job that he even garnished the support and praise from Zarchi for his retelling. The intensity of the terror constantly drives forward from the very opening scenes until the movies conclusion. There is a haunting score and virtually everything about this movie, short of the subject matter, shows promise for many of the cast and the director Monroe. He seems to have an understanding of the intent and purpose of the difficult themes of the movie, and he drives those themes home.

One of the interesting things in I Spit On Your Grave is the ability of Monroe to direct his characters in such a way that we see someone we know in each of the characters. If willing to look far enough, we may see characters that represent us. There is something about the development of each character that we ultimately see how not only our sins impact us, but the sins of others can have an impact on us. Yet in this process, we also see that each person is ultimately guilty of their actions, it doesn’t matter what the cause, whether a mentally challenged young man urged on to inappropriate actions, or a hypocritical sheriff who takes his children to church one moment, and is involved in the terror of others the next.

It is in the themes of each person being guilty of their actions that I found this movie somewhat thought provoking. Without giving too much away, there is one character that gives the appearance on one hand of being Christian, yet in reality practices hypocrisy to the hilt. In many ways, that character is a part of the driving force of this film. Their own willingness to indulge in pleasures that harm others for self pleasure is not lost. In a closing moment of their life, they come to the realization that their faith is not real and they are themselves doomed for hell. While many of faith may see this as another attempt of those at Hollywood to show the downfall of religion, I challenge, when we ignore the reality of what is around us then we ignore the ability to improve on those things, whether a person of faith or not.

In the primary character, Jennifer Hill, we see someone who is innocent of the crimes committed against her. In her progression we see her prior to her apparent death, she is beaten, spit on, abused in every way imaginable, we even see her take on the stance of a person being crucified. There is what I call a baptism scene where she falls into the water one person, and ultimately emerges from the water a different person. This movie reminded me not just of the rape and revenge stories included in the Bible, such as Simeon and Levi’s revenge of the rape of their sister Dinah, told in Genesis 34, but it also reminds me of the punishment many will face for their acts against others at the hands of God. I couldn’t help but think, if we truly knew the consequences of our actions and sins against others, if we truly comprehended the horror of revenge or vengeance, would we do the things we do?

Many will read this and think I am endorsing this movie and this DVD, I am not. I am saying there are quality themes for discussion for those that does see the movie. There are things to think about beyond the horror we see portrayed on screen. I was speaking to one lady regarding this movie and her response was, while it is horrible to watch, hard to think about, the truth is, the character doesn’t do anything that most rape victims haven’t thought about themselves. I am also reminded by a comment by Ted Dekker, a Christian author where he told me, ‘Evil painted with anything but the darkest of brushes is not a true representation of evil.’ With that in mind, I Spit On Your Grave is a horrid representation of evil and revenge, it is painted with the darkest of brushes. It isn’t for everyone, I would recommend in fact that most people don’t see this movie, but for those who do, or for those speaking to those that have, you have some points of discussion to carry you on to a place to discuss more than just the apparent violence. That can be a good thing if one allows, or one can get into the diatribe that many of faith seem to get into, that is the action of not addressing the horrors of society and the thoughts of many. Of course with that position, one would never speak on various points as discussed in the Bible, including the ones that include horrid rapes, murder, and acts of revenge to name a few.

On the Blu-ray aspects of the DVD, I couldn’t see anything that would justify me getting a Blu-ray as opposed to a regular DVD format here. I did like the special features for the movie although the menu is somewhat difficult and confusing to operate. There were some pretty good insightful things included though, from the making of feature to the commentary on the film itself. While I wouldn’t say this is worth a purchase, I would say well worth the rental price.

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Anonymous said...

Mike, I would like to commend you on your insightful, thoughtful and interesting review. There needs to be more like you on the internet.

Mike Furches and The Virtual Pew said...

Thanks I appreciate it, of course I know there are some that says there needs to be less of me. I do appreciate the kind words though.