It was two years ago, while reviewing I Spit On Your Grave 2, that I found myself questioning why the hell someone thought Meir Zarchi’s sexploitation classic I Spit On Your Grave (1978) would be the perfect jumping point for a torturous franchise based on dirty, genital-mutilating vengeance. Yet, despite my deepest fears, here we are discussing I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine, which is a much less powerful and far more disgusting take on a message that this year’s Felt handled with much more poise, artistry, and grace. Films often shy away of the lingering effects that rape victims deal with, but instead, R.D. Braunstein’s man-hating shocker turns constant fear into a ridiculous superpower meant to rid the world of evil rapists. You’re getting what you paid for here, but why you’d want to pay for it is completely beyond my comprehension.
Sarah Butler reprises her role as Jennifer Hills, who has recently joined a rape victim’s support group in hopes of subsiding the angry paranoia that resides inside her. This is where she meets Marla (Jennifer Landon), a more empowered victim who turns her anger into sarcasm and acts of vigilante justice – a personality that Jennifer adopts. The duo spends nights getting drinks and assaulting drunk elderly men, until Marla is presumably killed by her ex-boyfriend. This sets Jennifer on another vengeful warpath against the repugnant male gender, where she kills any freed rapist who crosses her path. The police can’t deliver justice, so Jennifer takes matters into her own hands – no matter the consequences.
This film is nothing but hate. Seething, gender-bashing hate that’s directed in every single direction. Men are the most obvious target, painted as Cro-Magnon predators who rape with no remorse, but inept police forces and condescending psychiatrists find themselves caught in Braunstein’s crosshairs as well. It’s no doubt that complicated laws permit for obviously guilty parties to walk free, but I Spit On Your Grave 3 doesn’t care about how, and simply bashes lousy policemen for being mechanic cogs who can’t secure justice. The attacks on psychiatrists are more broad and exaggerated, but there are actual issues that writer Daniel Gilboy tries to highlight without any actual ideological exploration. This is a movie about bad people meeting worse fates, and nothing more.
Jennifer Hills is an Angel of Death – she is not a hero or an anti-hero. Her motivations are built on human ugliness, yet her quest for vengeance provides no sense of relief. She targets the dregs of society, from habitual step-daughter abusers to soulless prison avoiders, but there’s no gratification in watching their heinous acts being met with bloody, equal retribution. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that Jennifer can play vigilante given her situation (no, NOT just because she’s a woman), and the abuse we’re put through is never rewarded by feminist heroics. Butler’s intensity is present, but her character’s composition is made of nothing that’s enjoyable to watch. I Spit On Your Grave 3 is ugly, gritty gore, with a flawed focal point leading its morally abhorrent charge – depravity of the grossest, and most unappealing order.
With that said, I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine contains one of the most brutal kills I’ve ever seen in a genre film. I’ve witnessed fellatio-gone-wrong deaths before, but Jennifer’s banana split trick made me cringe in ways only a man can understand. Even explaining how she starts sucking on the dirtbag’s lollipop makes me go pale, as she only suckles his tip to the man’s displeasure. Why? Well, that’s so she can spear his shaft with a knife, bite the head clean off, and then flay the damn thing like a cut of salmon right down the middle, with the two halves flopping open to create a new bodily orifice. Holy ‘effing shit, that’s how you execute a horror kill.
Yet even with such a monumentally disturbing bit of mutilation, I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine exists as nothing but an excuse. A sad excuse that confuses the dehumanization of woman as an action-packed rebirth, complete with costumes and traps. When society asked for stronger female roles, this ISN’T the product we were asking for. There’s not even a new motivation this time around, as Jennifer finds herself continually haunted by the abusive actions seen in the 2010 remake. It’s kind of like the Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 of repulsive sexual-assault slasher films, that says nothing about such a despicable trauma. Are we finally done with this garbage yet?
I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine does nothing to pull this series from the bowels of cinematic repugnance - it's still a man-hating franchise built on rape.