×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘I Spit on Your Grave 2’

After a surprisingly strong remake, Steven R. Monroe delivers exactly the kind of bottom-feeding exploitation trash one expected the last time around.

With:

Jemma Dallender, Yavor Baharoff, Joe Absolom, Aleksandar Aleksiev, Mary Stockley, Valentine Pelka, George Zlatarev, Peter Silverleaf, Michael Dixon, Kacey Barnfield. (English, Bulgarian dialogue)

Steven R. Monroe’s 2010 remake of the enduring 1978 cult hit “I Spit on Your Grave” was surprisingly strong, so it’s disappointing that this sequel — from the same director, although definitely not the same scenarists — should prove exactly the kind of bottom-feeding exploitation trash one expected the last time around. Rotely cribbing elements of “Hostel” and “Taken” to put another heroine through the gang-rape/near-fatal-beating mill, it’s a dreary affair that will thrill undiscriminating fans of torture-porn horror and nobody else. An “unrated version” launches an exclusive Los Angeles engagement Sept. 20, with various rollouts to follow in different territories. Theatrical exposure will likely again be minor, home-format sales hale.

The first “Spit” (originally released as “Day of the Woman,” and a flop until reissued under the more lurid title) was loathed by many, notably Roger Ebert. But there was a certain unsettling simplicity to its tale of a young city woman, seeking peace in the countryside, who is viciously assaulted by yokels, then (barely) survives to wreak methodical revenge. Whether it was his intent or not, writer-director Meir Zarchi (credited as an executive producer on the newer films) struck a chord among others who found the film feminist in its crude way. Certainly at the time, it could be read as both a critique of impotent male rage at “women’s lib,” and as a reversal of horror norms allowing the female victim to brutalize her tormentors in return. The remake kept that basic outline, with class/gender resentment toward the attractive, educated, “privileged” female interloper in an insular rural community again justifying (for the perps) her extreme abuse.

I Spit on Your Grave 2” immediately announces it doesn’t understand (or care about) the value of that template, making its heroine an aspiring Manhattan model — as opposed to the aspiring writer of the first two films, removing any issue of her intellect being a threat. Told her portfolio needs upgrading, Katie (Jemma Dallender) has a session with a photographer, Ivan (Joe Absolom), which she ends abruptly when he suggests she take her clothes off. We’ve already gone “uh-oh!” the second that Ivan answers the phone in a Russian-sounding accent. Actually it’s Bulgarian — but if thrillers of the last decade have taught us anything, it’s that every former Soviet territory is an earthly hell preying upon corn-fed American innocents.

Also present at the shoot were Ivan’s comrades, vaguely sleazy layabout Nicolay (Aleksandar Aleksiev) and seemingly harmless simpleton Georgy (Yavor Baharoff). Yet it’s Georgy who later shows up uninvited at Katie’s flat, savagely binds, beats and rapes her, and kills the nice building super (Michael Dixon) who intervenes. Called to the scene, Georgy’s mates realize there’s no salvaging this situation without breaking at least a few more laws.

Next thing we know, Katie wakes up chained to a dank basement mattress in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia; somehow, she was transported all this way unconscious in a trunk. Now revealing their true, inherently evil Eastern European nature, the perps violate her some more before she manages to escape. Unfortunately (and improbably), one supposed rescuer turns out to be a dragon lady (Mary Stockley) in cahoots with the bad guys. More rape and beating ensue, including a sequence in which Katie is tasered endlessly with special attention paid to her intimate parts. (By the pic’s fadeout, one can only marvel that the filmmakers really, really have a thing for genital punishment.) At last the tables are turned, and rather than going to the police or the American embassy, Katie morphs into a resourceful, arse-whupping avenger, delivering major pain while repeating back the “I know you want this, heh heh” drivel her assailants had spouted previously. So ironic!

The script by Neil Elman and Thomas Fenton, whose bleak prior credits include something called “Mongolian Death Worm,” is a threadbare string of cliches on which to hang various forms of torture. Where Monroe’s 2010 remake preserved some of the original’s eerie, primal austerity, “I Spit on Your Grave 2” is just a hot mess, from the villainous stereotypes to the cheesy disco synth score to the Bulgarians speaking English to each other for no logical reason.

Gore and nastiness are plentiful, but they’re just wearyingly gratuitous rather than truly shocking. There is definitely something amiss when, amid depiction of so much grievous bodily harm, your mind drifts to how silly the lead thesp’s repertoire of screams and whimpers often sounds. While Dallender is indeed out of her depth, admittedly no more practiced actress could likely have lent this enterprise gravitas.

Tech and design contributions are solid enough.

Film Review: 'I Spit on Your Grave 2’

Reviewed on DVD, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2013. Running time: 106 MIN.

Production:

An Anchor Bay Films release of a Cintel Films presentation in association with Anchor Bay Films and Meir Zarchi. Produced by Lisa Hansen, Paul Hertzberg. Executive producers, Meir Zarchi, Alan Ostroff, Jeff Klein, Gary Needle. Co-producers, Neil Elman, Bill Berry, Daniel Gilboy, Adam Driscoll.

Crew:

Directed by Steven R. Monroe. Screenplay, Thomas H. Fenton, Neil Elman, based on the motion picture "Day of the Woman" by Meir Zarchi. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Damien Bromley; editor, Kristina Hamilton-Grobler; music, Corey Allen Jackson; production designer, Severina Stoyanova; set decorator, Rosen Stefanov; costume designer, Desislava Andonova; sound (Dolby Digital), Vladimir Kaloyanov; supervising sound editor/sound designer, Casey Roberts; re-recording mixer, Kelly Vandever; special makeup effects, Jason Collins; assistant director, Lisa Hansen; casting, Gillian Hawser.

With:

Jemma Dallender, Yavor Baharoff, Joe Absolom, Aleksandar Aleksiev, Mary Stockley, Valentine Pelka, George Zlatarev, Peter Silverleaf, Michael Dixon, Kacey Barnfield. (English, Bulgarian dialogue)

More Film

  • DF-10689_R2_CROP – Sophie Turner and Jessica

    'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' Set for June 6 China Release

    “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” will officially swoop into Chinese theaters June 6, a day before its U.S. release, 20th Century Fox said Thursday. The studio had put out a trailer last fall that touted a Feb. 14 release date for the new X-Men installment, but said a day later that the premiere had been pushed back [...]

  • 'The Apollo' Review: A Legendary Theater

    Tribeca Film Review: 'The Apollo'

    You should never take for granted a documentary that fills in the basics with flair and feeling. Especially when the basics consist of great big gobs of some of the most revolutionary and exhilarating popular art ever created in this country. Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo,” which kicked off the Tribeca Film Festival on [...]

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Interscope Films Relaunches With Full Slate at Tribeca (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Interscope record label’s interest in film/music crossover isn’t exactly a secret: With hit companion albums for “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “La La Land,” they’ve seemed to own the soundtrack space at times in recent years. And the company hasn’t completely made a secret of its desire to move into film production. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Fans and Theaters Assemble for Biggest Marvel Movie Ever

    For San Diego resident Shawn Richter, “Avengers: Endgame” is more than the conclusion to a monumental period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the West Coast branch chair of Avengers Initiative, a cosplay charity that raises money for causes like the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities, the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are [...]

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content