The original I Spit On Your Grave (1978) can be described in a multitude of words, and while acknowledging the absolute abhorrent treatment of a female character coupled with her equally graphic revenge, Meir Zarchi’s relentless film became a cult classic because it empowered women in a way not even horror survival girls had before. It’s easy to comprehend the shock-value appeal, and that’s exactly what Steven R. Monroe tried to hit on with 2010′s remake, and in my opinion, struggled to do. It was no longer fresh, the shock was lost, and it felt a little more sadistic. I Spit On Your Grave 2, Monroe’s controversial sequel to his equally controversial remake, unfortunately feels like beating a dead corpse, um, I mean horse, as creating a franchise that brutalizes women and forces us to watch just doesn’t really get me all that excited. Hooray, more rape, dehumanization, sexual abuse, and degradation! Ugh, there’s horror, and then there’s sick exploitation.
Katie (Jemma Dallender) is an aspiring model living in New York City, looking for that life-changing big break. At the advice of a friend, she looks to re-vamp her portfolio, but doesn’t have the money to hire professional help right away. This is when Katie sees an advertisement for free modelling pictures, so she takes the number and tries it out. Meeting three brothers, she quickly discovers that their operation might not legitimate, and leaves as they ask her to “show a little more skin.” But when one of the brothers becomes infatuated with her, rapes her, and kills a worried neighbor, she ends up in Bulgaria, chained up in their basement – until she gets free and acquires a taste for revenge.
Watching I Spit On Your Grave, the original, typically happens because genre fans convince someone else it’s a classic that shouldn’t be missed. To a degree, I agree with that, and it’s since asserted itself in horror movie history. Steve R. Monroe’s budding franchise, on the other hand, is trying to create a name for itself by showing that same humanistic breakdown, subjecting viewers to long periods of savage acts and unspeakable torment, supposedly building the main character into a ruthless killer who believes revenge is her only method of salvation. It’s too bad this most recent attempt to give the female gender strong praise doesn’t cultivate feelings of retribution, as Monroe essentially gives us half of a movie that features nothing I want to stomach, and another half of a movie attempting to create sick death scenes.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 is torture porn done wrong. Honestly, I might have been more forgiving had this been a more Saw-like film, focusing on the kills like Monroe so obviously wanted to do, but the building blocks this time around create a weak, flimsy foundation, dragging us along for entirely too long. We’re repeatedly reminded just how sick these Bulgarian psychopaths are as Katie is subjected to events no woman should endure, but enough becomes enough. The idea of a woman being raped mercilessly and then setting her loose on her assailants is not a bankable franchise theme, fitting for one movie and no more. Knowing what I was about to watch didn’t excite me or pique any interest, as I merely strapped in and waited for the inevitable “story” to play out.
A story that’s ridiculously joke-worthy I might add, as the authorities become involved rather early, and do nothing about it. You know how those pesky Bulgarian policemen are, don’t you? No, I know, neither do I, but apparently they are TERRIBLE at their jobs.
Listen, there’s a reason why the original I Spit On Your Grave is a cult classic, and that’s because for all of the insanity, Meir Zarchi dared to be different, and did so with the boldest of statements. These new installments lack that attention-grabbing uniqueness, and instead revel in sadistic themes that attempt to replicate the same twisted message. I Spit On Your Grave 2 is an unnecessary sequel to a film that should have only ever been remade, updating iconic moments for new audiences. But now that we’ve had our fun and brought Zarchi’s idea to new audiences, it’s time for women to be empowered without being brutally, maliciously, and soullessly raped on-screen. We can do that, right?