I Spit on Your Grave

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I Spit on Your Grave

The original, a yucky 1978 rape-revenge fantasy that also went by the name Day of the Woman, was less a movie than a classic dare of the VCR era: a gauntlet that teens ran after their parents went off to bed. The violence was crude and catastrophic, the lessons didactic. Unexpectedly, it's become a handy reference point of late, as new exploitation flicks like Antichrist get praised, mysteriously, as feminist statements; I Spit on Your Grave's Jennifer---bloody, torn and armed to the teeth---is hardly a human being, never mind female.

Marginally, then, let's credit the distributors of this uninspired remake for releasing their version unrated---after the MPAA dictated extensive trims just to achieve an R. This is called knowing where one's bread is buttered: Deep in the movie's clichd Louisiana backwoods (an absurd place for a sophisticated urban writer to retreat), we witness all manner of impalements, eyelid-hookings and acid dips. But harsh-voiced Sarah Butler lends zero personality to her avenging antiheroine, and the retributive torture sequences approach Saw levels of unlikelihood. Most perverse is the omission of the one truly notorious scene from the first film: a bathtub seduction that ends sharply. How does one not include this? Shorn of much of its psychosexual menace, the new Grave is gelded.

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By: Joshua Rothkopf

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