I think that there are many comparisons between the romantic comedy genre, and the rape/revenge horror film genre. Both generally require a relationship between men and women, both are genres that are off-putting to a large group of people, and they’re both incredibly predictable. It’s just that one of the genres is easier to watch, and doesn’t feature all that violent or extreme content.
I’m not sure why I thought about romantic comedies while I was watching I Spit on Your Grave. Maybe it was because I was bored, and would have rather watched one. Or possibly, it’s that I kept thinking that these are the two most predictable genres in film. I can’t think of one that is, overall, more predictable. If you can, I’d be surprised. They’re both somewhat specific sub-genres, I’ll admit, but that’s just another interesting comparison between the two. Granted, the content is nothing alike, and the people who enjoy one will typically stay far away from the other, but I think the comparisons between them are valid.
If you’re unfamiliar, here’s how the typical rape/revenge movie works. There’s a person, usually a woman, who will be the victim. In this movie’s case, it’s Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler). The victim will get some time for us to get to know her, and generally makes a bad decision that will lead to one of the two things mentioned in the genre. In this case, she naïvely stops and asks for directions to a cabin in the woods, and then spills some liquid on the creepy guy who tells her were to go. She spends some time at the cabin, drinking wine, smoking marijuana and writing — she’s a writer, after all.
The second potion of these films consists of the rape. This is usually done by a character already introduced to us. In this case, it’s the people working at the gas station, as well as the plumber who earlier came in to fix the clogged toilet. The leader is Johnny (Jeff Branson), and with him comes three others, soon to be four. There’s a guy working the camera, another holding a baseball bat, looking menacing, and one who is mentally disabled. The sheriff joins them shortly after. Then the rape occurs, and it takes a long time, and is not something that is pleasant for anyone. It’s not fun for us to watch, it’s obviously not fun for the victim, and it doesn’t even look like that much fun for the group of vile people performing it.
The third part is the revenge that’s mentioned in the genre title. The rape leaves the victim beaten, but not killed. They want revenge, as they rightly should, so they decide that it would be fun to act upon that desire for the rest of the time they’re on-screen. In this case, Jennifer uses the same type of dialogue and actions that were done to her in order to torture and eventually kill her rapists.
At this point, you may be wondering where the surprises are, or at what point there is a plot twist. There usually aren’t any. These are how these films work, and as a result, are very predictable. You think that romantic comedies are easy to figure out? Well, these are easier. They just aren’t as well-known or popular with the mainstream audience, and as a result, don’t get the same bad rap as their rom-com partners.
I Spit on Your Grave is a remake of a movie with the same title from the 80’s. Have I seen that one? No. Will I after watching the remake? I doubt it. After sitting through over an hour and a half of unpleasantness, I’m done with the genre for a while. I’ve already experience this particular plot, and its slight deviations from the genre, anyway, so I doubt watching the original would be worth my time. The basic idea is the same regardless, so it’s probably best to just watch one or the other, if you’re so inclined despite what I’m about to say.
To me, this isn’t a film that’s worth watching. There’s nothing here that I enjoyed, and nothing really to recommend. The set-up part isn’t all that entertaining, as we mostly just watch Jennifer going about her daily routine. The rape is — do you really expect it to be enjoyable? And the revenge is almost just as bad, largely because Jennifer performs most of the things done to her on these men, regardless of whether or not they deserve it.
See, the one mentally challenged person, played by Chad Lindberg, doesn’t want to commit this heinous act. He tries to get out of it, and stop the rape altogether. (But since he’s not all that bright, he gets forced into it.) He’s just about as much a victim as Jennifer is. So why does he deserve punishment? Oh, but he gets his, just like they all do. And we’re supposed to be rooting for this random woman going around killing people. Sure, they did a bad thing, but are they deserving of torture and death? Maybe, but how will Jennifer live with herself afterward?
That’s how these films work though. But in order to do it properly, you need to make her revenge plot viable. About half of the things she does probably wouldn’t work, or would be impossible for her to perform. There are five men who defile her. These men seem pretty strong, and while not intelligent, smart enough to avoid being tricked. Jennifer does not seem too smart either, and she’s definitely going to be weaker than four of these men. But she manages to overpower them or trick them using implausible/impossible tactics in order to complete her elaborate revenge.
If this is your kind of movie, well, you’ll probably enjoy it. You need to be able to overlook the predictable plot, elaborate revenge schemes and implausibility in order to call this a good movie, and then you’ll still have to overcome the fact that pretty much everything that happens once the second act rolls around is vile and repulsive. This wasn’t for me, and I had absolutely no fun while watching I Spit on Your Grave.