Toronto After Dark: I Spit on Your Grave Review

I Spit on Your Grave

Director: Steven R. Monroe
Writers: Meir Zarchi (1978 screenplay), Stuart Morse, , Jeffrey Reddick
Producers: Lisa Hansen, Paul Hertzberg,
Starring: Chad Lindberg, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Jeff Branson, Andrew Howard
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running time: 107 min.

On a personal level based off of subject matter:
For those who enjoy rape/revenge films:

Toronto After Dark

I am having trouble coming up with a film that is harder to provide a concise review of that doesn’t just delve into how I feel about the subject matter or what is right or wrong to show in a film. I will be putting up another post in the near future where we can actually try to delve into that a bit but for this post, I want to mostly deal with whether I Spit on Your Grave is a strong revenge film.

The basic plot is that Jennifer (Sarah Butler) is a lone female author who heads off to a secluded cabin in order to write her next novel. On the way to the cabin she stops off for gas and has a quick run in with Johnny (Jeff Branson) and his friends. Nothing really comes out of the run in right away but later on Johnny and friends invade Jennifer’s cabin. What proceeds next is about 10-20 minutes of extremely disturbing and uncomfortable as they proceed to humiliate and eventually rape Jennifer. Eventually it is time to get rid of Jennifer but she manages to slip through their fingers. A month or so later Jennifer returns and extracts vengeance against her attackers.

In order to be successful, a movie like I Spit on Your Grave needs to have good acting. If the acting is poor you will not be drawn into the film and you will not care whether or not the revenge is given. The acting in the film is indeed good. Sarah Butler is completely believeable. Jeff Branson is quite menacing but I particularly enjoyed the performance given by Chad Lindberg who plays Matthew. Matthew is a mentally challenged who is forced to be involved with the attack and rape. We all know Matthew’s fate is sealed but one can’t help but pity him.

Without a doubt, I Spit on Your Grave is a very strong entry in the revenge film genre. It is gripping and terrifying for the run of the film. It also provides a large amount of catharsis for the viewer which is strongly needed after having to sit through the initial rape and brutality. The violence returned upon the attackers does not feel silly even though it is some of the most brutal nasty violence that I have seen in the past few years. The audience at Toronto After Dark groaned, laughed and cheered its way through the scenes of Jennifer’s vengeance.

I have not seen the original 1978 film and other than having a morbid curiousity and wanting to be somewhat of a completionist with my film going experience I won’t be rapidly seeking it out. Having seen the remake I am quite content to believe from everything that I have heard. The main problem most people have with the original is that Jennifer seduces her victims after the attack. This is a diservice to the brutality and how someone might react. The remake is much smarter in that it turns Jennifer into more of a force of nature that just can not be stopped.

You may have noticed that I gave this film two ratings. This movie is not for me but I can’t help but enjoy the skill with which I Spit on Your Grave was made. This is why I gave it the lower yet still good rating of 3 1/2 stars out of 5. If you are a fan of the original or enjoy similar movies then there is no way you will not walk away thoroughly entertained with the film. It provides the audience with some of the most brutal violent kill scenes, it is filmed beautifully and is both terrifying and yet still provides the catharsis needed to make it a success.