Review Date: October 8, 2013
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: September 24, 2013
Codec: AVC, 1080p
Widescreen 2.40 | 16x9: Yes
The original I Spit on Your Grave
is one of the few films I find utter irredeemable and totally morally reprehensible. Itís crude, stupid and poorly made, but to its minor credit itís one of the few films dealing with rape that doesnít glamourize the subject matter. The 2010 remake was just as vile and reprehensible, but undeniably well-made and disquietingly effective. But really, was there anything on the subject left unsaid that would necessitate a sequel? If there was, it still hasnít been dealt with. Despite the numeral in the title, I Spit on Your Grave 2
is not a sequel but a cheap rip-off of the remake, and itís not even a good rip-off, either. The bold artlessness of 2013ís incarnation of I Spit on Your Grave
make both the original 1978 film and the remake look like models of good taste and restraint.
This movie would have to look up to see the bottom of the barrel.
(Ha! Story. Good one.)
Katie (Jemma Dallender
) is an aspiring model who moves to New York City in hopes of breaking into the industry. Armed with pluck, determination, a pretty face and not much more than that, sheís on verge of giving up when she finds an ad for a free photo shoot. She calls the number on the ad and though the voice on the phone is suspiciously evasive, she decides to make the appointment anyway. She winds up in a dingy basement suite with leering photographer Ivan (Joe Absolom
) and his two brothers, imbecile Georgy (Yavor Baharoff
) and drug addict Nicolay (Aleksandar Aleksiev
). The shoot seems to be going well for Katie until Ivan tells her to strip. Apparently he publishes nude pictures of his models on the Internet to subsidize the cost of their photo shoot. Katie immediately declines and leaves. Compromising her principles is too high a price to pay for fame.
The rest of the movie is dedicated to punishing her for having a sense of personal morals and for possessing the agency to exercise them.
In short order, Katie is attacked in her apartment by Georgy and brutally raped. Kindly custodian Jayson (Michael Dixon
) who lives in the apartment below her is stabbed to death when he tries to intercede on her behalf. The situation having escalated beyond his ability to cope, Georgy calls in his brothers to help clean up the mess. This entails drugging Katie and abducting her to Bulgaria (not because itís important to the plot, but because itís cheap to film thereÖand even cheaper if you donít try to disguise the fact that youíre filming in Bulgaria). So begins an agonizingly long sequence where Katie repeatedly raped, beaten, tortured and humiliated. After what feels like an eternity, she manages to escape and find her way into police custody, only to be handed back to her captors: in some of the laziest writing imaginable Ana (Mary Stockley
), the female officer assigned to her case, is actually Georgyís mother. Itís a plot twist that mightíve been played for surprise or suspense in a better movie, but that I saw coming because it fit the absolute witlessness of the movie up to that point.
The brothers stuff the nearly unrecognizable Katie into a box, bury her alive in their basement and figure theyíre done with her. Not so: in an additional twist of lazy, idiotic writing she winds up in the sewers under a church, where she begins to plot her revenge. She doesnít spend much time doing so, and it shows because her revenge is lazy and abbreviated. In fact, those adjectives could describe every aspect of this movie not dealing with rape or torture. When it comes to the humiliation of its female star, Grave 2 is very meticulously conceived and executed with painstaking detail. Every drop of urine on Katieís naked body, every cattle prod to the genitals lovingly lingered on.
See, Iím not dismissing this movie because it portrays rape. Iím dismissing it because it only seems to care about portraying rape in the most humiliating and pornographic way possible. Every other aspect of the movie seems designed to get to the next scene of degradation as quickly as possible. Thereís no real plot to speak of, and very little in the way of character development. Given the moral issues that arise around the topic of vigilantism and victimís rights, youíd have to studiously avoid dealing with them to wind up with a movie that doesnít even come within spitting distance of having some kind of subtext, but I Spit on Your Grave 2
manages to be utterly vapid as well as utterly repugnant. An oversight like that shows utter contempt for the audience and Iím going to assume thatís exactly what the filmmakerís had. This movie earns no favours from me.
Itís to her credit, then, the Jemma Dallender makes as strong an impression as she does with such thin material. She gives a fierce and fearless performance, whether sheís being tortured, or sheís crushing some guyís balls in a workbench vise. I wish Katie had been conceived as a person rather than a punching bag. Dallender is so fresh-faced and appealing and obviously very brave; I would have liked to see what she would have done with a juicier role. I guess Iíll just have to wait and see. Hopefully this shameful exercise in sadism will be a stepping stone on the way to better roles that she can put behind her forever.
At the best of times releasing a movie as cruel and misogynist as I Spit on Your Grave 2
would be in poor taste. Given the recent rash of high profile sexual assaults making the news and the resultant kickback against rape culture among feminists, itís as poorly timed as could possibly be imagined. The 2010 film actually garnered a bit of notice among mainstream critics, but I see this ďsequelĒ is being unceremoniously shuffled off to the wasteland of video. Perhaps even the people involved realize just what a bad idea this movie was. Hopefully itís quickly buried and weíre spared the prospect of I Spit on Your Grave 3
Itís a new movie. It looks good. Big whoop.
If anything, they quality of the video shows just how much behind the camera talent was squandered on such a pile of shit. Damian Bromleyís cinematography is sharp and brooding, and the film is soaked in Bouseman-esque greens and yellows. And urine. Donít forget that. Blacks are strong, detail is sharp, so every bruise on Katieís face and every cattle prod to her vagina is rendered clear as day.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 True HD track is one of the better mixes Iíve heard on a low budget movie. Whether itís the blur of sounds panning around the back channels as Katie wakes up from her drug-induced stupor, or the atmospheric echoing of dripping of water in the sewers, itís an unexpectedly effective mix. Again, though, itís impressive technical craft in service of unredeemable exploitation. It could be the best mix in the world and that wouldnít mitigate the content of this film one bit.
There are no alternate language or subtitle tracks but when your soundtrack consists primarily of cries of pain and anguish, why bother paying actors to dub it into another language. At any rate, our non-Anglophone friends are missing nothing.
The only supplement is a collection of Deleted Scenes (5:23).
Iím actually glad that thereís no audio commentary with director Steven R. Munroe. Any attempts to try and defend a film so callous and unnecessary probably would have sent me into paroxysms of rage that would have left my TV smashed, and my soul crushed.
Even though I donít agree with vigilante justice or even the death penalty, I understand the charge that people get from watching loathsome characters get served their just desserts in ironically gruesome ways. I get that. I dig it. You will not will not find any of that visceral thrill in I Spit on Your Grave 2
. Most rape/revenge thrillers hide behind the justification that they are made for people who sympathize with the victim. I donít necessarily buy that in most cases, but I usually let it pass. Grave 2
, however, has no such defense to hide behind. Itís made for people whose sympathies lie with the rapists. The revenge part of the equation seems like a total afterthought; itís like they were editing the film and realized that they had a feature film in which a woman is beaten, raped, tortured and pissed on for 80 minutes and then buried alive, and hastily then shot a third act to justify the first two. Its shock for the sake of shock in the most heartless and cruel fashion imaginable.
The Blu-ray is technically proficient, but who cares? You canít make a silk purse out of a sowís ear and no matter how much your try and polish a turd with 1080p resolution and a True HD mix, itís still a turd. Avoid this movie like youíd avoid a turd on the sidewalk, and weíll all be better for it.
Movie - F
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - D
- Running time - 1 hour and 46 minutes
- Not Rated, 18A
- 2 Discs (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD)
- Chapter Stops
- English 5.1 True HD Audio
- English SDH subtitles
- Spanish subtitles (if applicable)