You wouldn’t think that a slasher style horror film would elicit serious thought, but the 2010 remake of I Spit on Your Grave sure does. This film ends up being so heavy and impactful because of the subject matter it deals with. A typical slasher involves killing people. Well, this one involves the brutal rape and violent assault of an innocent woman. That is such a horrifying offense and any film that depicts something like this is bound to affect you, no matter what genre. The main character comes after every single offender that assaulted her and left her for dead. This is a brutal revenge film that I am somewhat conflicted on.
The acting is good all around. Every cast member, Sarah Butler especially, does a fine job. The directing and visuals are also handled very well, everything looks great here, nothing looks cheap. The filmmaking in general is well done andI don’t think there’s any arguing about that. What I’m concerned about is some of the content. I don’t have an issue with rape in film, this is a big issue in our world and it must be talked about. While I do think it must be talked about and represented in film when necessary, the way we go about it is important. In something like Boys Don’t Cry or The Accused, the rape is crucial to the story and in order for the film to get its message across loud and clear, it must show some of it. Yes, it’s extremely hard to watch but that’s the point: showing the true evil nature of it all is crucial. With this film, yes I think it’s important to show some of it or else the protagonist’s actions in the second half don’t really work in the way the film wants it to.
While I watched the assault occur, I felt so incredibly violated and was filled with rage. Those feelings are what every single viewer should feel. It’s completely appropriate to want these men to suffer an unbelievable amount of pain. I applaud the film for succeeding in eliciting the proper feeling and showing the vileness, but I was bothered by how much time was spent on it. She is raped once and it’s absolutely horrifying, especially because it’s by a special needs man egged on and basically forced by the other men. Then, she’s raped by several others and it gets exploitative in my opinion. There’s nothing more evil and depraved than to be raped and then left for dead. Because of that, you must know how to handle it when it’s being depicted onscreen. Yes, in this film’s case, it was absolutely necessary to show some, but it went on too long and I was disappointed by that. When dealing with rape in film, you don’t prolong farther than necessary…. you just don’t.
The character Matthew, who’s the special needs man who’s basically forced to rape her, is something I felt was completely unnecessary. Having a special needs person be the first one to brutalize her is just adding extra evil onto a situation that’s already reached that threshold. I think this harms the special needs community and it’s yet another example of offensive exploitation.
I want to focus on the script for a bit because there’s actually some very good aspects. I really liked the dialogue written for the abusers because it accurately reveals these men’s sexism, toxic masculinity, and overall evil nature. That needs to come through loud and clear in the writing because that IS the mind and soul of a rapist. The toxic idea of, “I’m a man and you’re a lowly woman and I can have my way and do whatever the f**k I want” is the thinking of a rapist. I love that they showed the truth of it, the evil sexism embedded in it.
The second half of the film is Jennifer’s sweet revenge, her justice. Some of the things she does to these rapists are just unimaginable. I wasn’t uncomfortable with the scenes of her torturing and ultimately killing these men because after what they did they honestly deserve that and to rot in some version of hell for eternity. Now I of course don’t condone killing or violence but I had no issue with her revenge in this film. All I could think of during these scenes was: justice has been served. I don’t believe in spoilers so I won’t say how any of them are killed, but I will say that I loved one method that’s used. I loved the symbolism and karma of it if you will.
So look, 2010’s I Spit On Your Grave is a brutal, taxing film that some simply won’t be able to get through, and for very good reason. I do have mixed feelings because the exploitative nature of several scenes does concern me, but I also feel like the writing does a great job of exposing the truly patriarchal evil nature of assaults like this. Rape survivors should avoid this film like the plague, but I do feel like it’s worth one watch because of the quality filmmaking and because of it’s very real/accurate description of the abusers.
It’s so important for us as a society to be UNWAVERING on this: Rapists are pure evil, that’s just it and there’s no second chance for those people…. NONE.
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