When a film has an alternate title of something like "Day of the Woman" you sort of know what level to lower your expectations to.
I first saw I Spit On Your Grave about 12 years ago on some dodgy rental VHS (that probably should have been banned) and even at the height of my 14 year old maturity level I came to the conclusion as to what a shitty film it was. Upon viewing it a second time, my opinion of it has not changed all that much.
This is another one of those films that has been banned then released with cuts, then banned again and it is the controversy around it that has kept it from being forgotten. Now it has been released on a special edition dvd with lots of extras including essays, trailers and two commentaries. (For a rundown on its history in Australia check out the awesome Refused Classification website - though be warned, reading this site and seeing the bullshit reasons for the banning of a disgustingly large number of horror films and computer games is enough to make you want to hunt down every last ##### who has even worked for the OFLC and spend several torturous weeks demonstrating to them the difference between cinematic or video game violence and real life violence. Well it does to me anyway....)
Part of the reason these previously banned films are now released is because of the addition of these special features which often focus on the technical side of things or give a better perspective and thus remove or reduce the "exploitative" nature that the OFLC seems to find so offensive on our behalf.
The (what passes for a) plot of the film is simple. A woman is raped and goes for revenge.
Obviously it is rape scenes that generated the most controversy. She gets raped, wanders off in one direction and somehow stumbles across those same guys in some other place where she is raped again, and then she goes off home where they are waiting for her and they rape her again.
Then she composes herself and goes for revenge.
Make no mistake that the rape scenes are unpleasant to watch and credit must be given to the actress (Camille Keaton) as she really sells it. And many writers and critics have said that is the whole point of the film. Rape is not entertaining and thus no film which deals with it should be easy to watch and the director (Meir Zachi) echoes those sentiments several times in the commentary.
And while that is certainly a valid point, all his going on about his noble intentions in wanting to show how horrible rape is and what it does to a victim both physically and psychologically really comes across little more than "artistic" bullshit - primarily because of the revenge.
Claiming you are making a film to show horrible rape is, and then throwing in a "Hollywood" (at least a horror Hollywood) revenge ending does seem to cheapen it, especially when the audience is there cheering for each rapist to meet his well deserved fate. Having the audience drawn into it like that seems to detract from it being a serious portrayal of rape which people should find unpleasant to watch, and undoes the very "anti-cinema" feel the film has up to that point (no music, static cameras, long lingering shots).
However the revenge scenes are fairly awesome. There is a hanging, an axing, a disemboweling courtesy of an outboard motor, and best of all, castration. Castration should be the constitutionally mandated punishment for rape - and none of this chemical castrations bullshit either.
Head on over to The Asylum to see more of what should be the only treatment for rapists, but know there is a reason why it's not posted here.
Can I recommend this film? Not really. If you are a serious horror or film connoisseur and want to see what all the controversy is about, then check it out but be aware of what you will be seeing. If you are not a horror or film connoisseur and don't care what all the fuss is about, then avoid it. This is not something to put on to kill a couple of hours - even with copious amounts of alcohol.
(cross-posted at The Asylum)