US | 2013 | Directed by Stephen R. Monroe
Logline: After a young aspiring model accepts a photo opportunity and is raped and left for dead she seeks savage revenge.
I was both intrigued, but admittedly highly skeptical, about a sequel to a remake of one of the more notorious exploitation movies of the past forty years, I Spit On Your Grave. I was intrigued because I thought the remake from 2010 was a surprisingly effective and well-made entry in that questionable of acquired sub-genre tastes, the rape-revenge flick. I was highly skeptical because I wondered what on earth could be brought to the table that hadn’t already been.
Stephen R. Monroe is a talented director, but why he chose to tackle the same grim subject matter twice is curiously indulgent. The only notable differences being the woman in the first is a struggling writer whilst the woman in the second is a struggling model, and the first movie takes place in rural upstate New York, whilst the second starts in New York City but spends most of the time Bulgaria.
There are the redneck hillbillies vs. Euro sex trade contrast, but that’s tenuous. At the end of the long dark night these are movies about three very base things: humiliation, torture, and revenge. The rape-revenge movie has to balance the seesaw just right otherwise it becomes questionable in terms of its nightmare and pay-off. Not many get it right. Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45 (1981, a.k.a. Angel Of Vengeance) and I’ll Never Die Alone (2007) are two movies balance the tone, dramatic narrative, and pay-off.
I’m not a fan of Meir Zarchi’s original from 1978, in fact I found in a particularly inept piece of filmmaking in terms of dramatic narrative, horror atmosphere, and performance, but there are scores of fans. I’m a fan of the remake; it’s a much better scripted, directed, and acted movie, with solid production values. I do have an issue with the victim’s abrupt change of character enabling her to become a killing machine, suddenly able to construct and execute a multitude of elaborate booby traps in order to exact her revenge. Indeed these are dishes best served cold, and in both the remake and its sequel serves them mighty chilled.
Curiously I Spit On Your Grave 2 nods its story credit head once again to Meir Zarchi’s original, so it’s not so much a sequel, but just another remake. It begs the question, why do it all over again? A more interesting sequel would involve gender reversal so that a young male model is manipulated, deceived, drugged, and then brutally tortured and sodomised by a group of female thugs armed with extreme sex “toys”. But no, instead we have another just beautiful young woman …
It’s particularly hard to believe in the case of the sequel that Katie’s abductors manage to get her from NYC to Bulgaria without a hitch. And it’s also very difficult to believe that a woman so badly beaten and traumatised would, within a day or so, have the strength, courage, and savvy to track down her assailants, overwhelm them and commit multiple murder as if on some kind of get out of jail free card.
But hey, those quibbles aside I Spit On Your Grave 2 is above average in terms of its production values and direction, and performances, especially Jemma Dallender as Katie (bearing a striking resemblance to Zoë Lund from Ms. 45), Joe Absolom as Ivan, and Mary Stockley as Ana, are strong. The revenge acts aren’t as extreme as I was hoping for, although the “vice” hits suitably below the belt.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 doesn’t have the same sustained tension as Monroe’s first remake, but as far as unnecessary remakes go, it’s a savage cut well above the rest.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 is released in Australia on Blu-ray and DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment o October 16th.