Tuesday, 8 October 2013

I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013)

A sequel in name only this really should have been called ‘I Spit on Your Grave Too’ or better still titled with something original. This pseudo follow-up to the 2010 remake of the 1978 film of the same name would stand up strong as a solid entry into the often reviled and misunderstood rape and revenge sub-genre without the reused infamous moniker. Using the title again, it cynically suggests that the movie only exists to cash in on the success of the arguably superior to the original said redo of a few years ago. The only elements these two entries in this rebooted series have in common are the conventions of a rape and revenge outing with the usual three-act structure entailing a female protagonist raped or gang raped possibly tortured too and left for dead, the woman surviving rehabilitates herself and then takes her revenge killing her attacker (s).

It is somewhat strange how the remake got a sequel but the 1978 original never did. That is because it was a self-contained film and any continuation featuring the same central character would be impossible to justify rendering it unnecessary, as the feasibility of the same horrific ordeal happening to her again would be a very farfetched idea indeed. An unofficial sequel without the involvement of the first movie’s writer and director Meir Zarchi was produced though in 1988 and released straight to video five years later called ‘Savage Vengeance’. Star Camille Keaton did return though as heroine Jennifer Hills and featured a stupid lightning strikes twice storyline with Jennifer again a victim. Keaton has since disowned the film refusing to talk about it and even apologized to her former director and ex-husband Zarchi for being involved in it. From what I have seen I can understand her negative reactions.

The director of the remake Steven R. Monroe has returned to the helm here and had the good sense to leave the storyline alone from the previous instalment. Although a sequel to the movie was unneeded, just as one to the original was this is a standalone entry and all the better for it. The reusing of the title and lumping the number 2 at the end of it does reek of milking the cow of the success of the 2010 film. However, judging it within in its own context it ticks all the right boxes for exploitation fans in delivering a satisfying rape and revenge fest. It achieves in what it sets out to do by repelling its viewer with its brutal graphic depictions of the female protagonist’s degrading victimization and then makes good on its promise of a fists in the air payoff. This despite some great leaps in logic with gaping plot holes galore that due to the wish fulfilment provided to the targeted audience in pandering to their needs I can just about let slide resulting in a suspension of disbelief with just some minor nit-picks. It will not turn any new fans on to the sub-genre and it certainly does not present the act of revenge as problematic being more Death Wish II (1982) than ‘Death Wish’ (1974) in this respect. As a balls out piece of exploitative entertainment it is quite the treat. 

Aspiring model Katie (Jemma Dallender) is working as a restaurant waitress in New York City. In order to add to her portfolio she calls the number of an advertisement for free professional photos. When arranging a photo shoot she is met by three Bulgarian brothers. The oldest Ivan (Joe Absolom) is the photographer and Nickolai (Aleksandar Aleksiev) and Georgy (Yavor Baharov) his assistants. Georgy seems to be infatuated with Katie and Nickolai seemingly stoned is crashing out. After a disagreement with Ivan about taking her clothes off, Katie then leaves. Later Georgy turns up at her apartment to give her the photos. He later breaks in raping her anally in front of Katie’s dying on the floor neighbour who was stabbed repeatedly in the stomach by Georgy when he came to see what all the noise was during Katie and Georgy’s struggle. His brothers turn up after he calls them for help when the deranged sexual deviant realizes what he has just done and force-feed her Nickolai’s ketamine. When she returns to consciousness, she finds herself handcuffed to a pipe lying on a dirty old mattress in an old basement being raped by Nickolai. She eventually manages to overpower Georgy and escape only to find she has been abducted to the brothers’ native homeland.

That is one of the major plot inconsistencies right there. How the fuck, did the South-eastern fiends smuggle Katie out of the States hassle free. Grips aside having our heroine in a strange foreign land, adds disorientation to her already terrifying plight and the Bulgaria setting makes for a harsh unforgiving environment. I am not going into extensive detail of all the other WTFs there is here, to prevent spoilers for this at the time of writing new release and everything else works very well anyway cancelling this out meeting the audience's expectations with the narrative specifically structured to serve these needs.

The movie works so well as a showcase for gruesome set-pieces as we witness the scumbags get their comeuppance with Katie doing unto others what they did to her. This follows on from its predecessor with the same kind of execution of revenge as opposed to the original’s with its feminist empowerment of Jennifer Hills trapping her attackers with seduction pretending she liked what they did to her before exacting her vengeance. Despite the predictability in knowing what the inevitable outcome will be here in this film, it still manages to be just as disturbing with a strong visceral experience as we look on to see how her cold merciless payback is carried out in a grimy rough around the edges piece of revengeploitation. Dallender is powerfully convincing here in a brave performance hitting every note right with her emotions and the three actors portraying the despicable brothers are immensely effective in their loathsomeness.

‘I Spit on Your Gave 2’ might not be groundbreaking in the rape and revenge sub-genre but it is certainly a welcome addition to it. It continues this franchise’s strong genre filmmaking with enthusiasm for the exploitative material making its controversial subject matter as grim and nasty as can be to highlight what a truly vile act rape is. Recommend.

*** out of ****

Dave J. Wilson

©2013 Cinematic Shocks, Dave J. Wilson - All work is the property of the credited author and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.

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