Review: I Spit on Your Grave 2 / Cert: 18 / Director: Steven R. Monroe / Screenplay: Neil Elman and Thomas Fenton / Starring: Jemma Dallender, Joe Absolom, Aleksandar Aleksiev, Yavor Baharov / Release Date: October 7th
To date the I Spit on Your Grave films have received notoriously bad press, each condemned by leading film critic Roger Ebert, amongst others. Perhaps only the passing of the stalwart of film criticism saved Steven R. Monroe from a second critical lashing, because somewhere looking down upon us, Ebert is passing an unfavourable, yet justified judgement.
Model Katie (Jemma Dallender) is raped, tortured and abducted, before escaping to seek revenge on her assailants.
With a bare bones, non-existent narrative, at 100 minutes I Spit on Your Grave 2 outstays its welcome. The filmmakers fundamentally miscue on the construction of this revenge-exploitation thriller, depriving us of the protagonist’s rebirth following her physical and emotional destruction, the suffering outweighing the retribution.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 wallows in absurdity, as the smuggling of their victim out of the country to conceal their crime plunges the film headlong into the ludicrous. Whilst Steven R. Monroe returned to the director’s chair for sentimental reasons, which would prove unwise, the axe of blame should fall squarely on the necks of writers Neil Elman and Thomas Fenton. The script is infatuated with the nastiness of rape and physical abuse, and is lazy in the absence of any attempt to at least attempt to offer a reflection on the subject at its heart: revenge.
For all the controversy of Straw Dogs' notorious rape scene, the film remains a reflection of the ideologies of its director Sam Peckinpah. It explores the individual’s relationship to violence and the necessity of violence for survival. Whilst this reflection is embedded in the film’s subtext, I Spit on Your Grave 2 asks you to attempt to find a reason to celebrate it by projecting meaning and metaphor onto it where none exists.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 may be best described as an absurd satirical sketch of America’s psychological mind-set. It depicts America’s internal and external angst towards “the other.” Vilifying the rest of the world and opening up old wounds and suspicions, it positions itself as the victim of the world’s cruelty, and the all too common xenophobia of “the other.” Only this time it is on American soil and abroad; its citizens under fire at home as well as abroad; the threat now internal and external. The influence of 9/11 and America struggling to deal with the hostility following a change in foreign policy post World War Two frames I Spit on Your Grave 2 as the current cinematic depiction of its scarred consciousness.
Monroe’s sequel is a film produced for financial reasons as opposed to artistic merit. Inevitably it exploits those who enable such films to turn a profit and plague those of us with some sensibility to the pointlessness of violence and the plain nasty provocation with which they leave their mark; another tawdry franchise to endure.