In principal I do not object to the idea of remaking films. Genres are after all founded upon filmmaking elements that are entirely familiar to the audience. Anyone with a love of genre cinema, should by the very definition of a genre, have a very high tolerance for the idea of remakes. The trick of course is to present those familiar elements in a manner which seems fresh and new, that so many genre films fail to do this, and in effect become remakes by any other name seems to be overlooked in favour of outright hostility toward the slew of horror remakes that are helping to keep the genre (commercially at least) alive. American cinema is a cinema of remakes, and if you think it is bad now, spare a thought for the silent era, a time in which the vogue for remaking films was at its height. No, the problem for me is pointless remakes. It is not enough simply to remake a film for commercial reasons, one has to provide something that the original doesn’t. The easiest way might be to take a film and adapt its principal themes to a socio/political concern of relevance. The remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) manages to achieve this, and it surprises me not, that it is largely considered one of the better remakes. The first thing you need then is a film with the plot potential to do this. The original I Spit on Your Grave (1978) is a witless and moronic film, but this could be forgiven if there was some aspect to it that might be relevant to contemporary society. Instead the remake opts to simply regurgitate the same themes and concerns as the original did in 1978. The result is a film that is utterly and completely pointless.
I won’t spend this review (like the majority of others) rattling on about the moral and ethical debates that surround rape/revenge thrillers. Suffice it to say that Meir Zarchi’s original film is far more interesting when approached from the perspective of its distribution. Especially in the United Kingdom where it became one of the pin up poster boys of the Video Nasties campaign. The films content is as repugnant, odious, and slimy as one would expect. It is a gruelling and punishing exercise in raw and mindless exploitation. It is a film that is both impossible to like and impossible to take seriously. Those that do profess a liking for the film are doing so purely to be confrontational and controversial. The only other alternative is that they are mentally ill. The man responsible for this ‘adaptation’ is Stuart Morse who I’m sure takes great pride in claiming this credit. The only major change that Morse makes is to include a local Sherriff (Andrew Howard) who takes his corruption too an hysterical level of anal rape absurdity. The Sherriff adds nothing to the proceedings, apart from the clichéd device of backwater authority figures being a part of the conspiracy. Some effort is made to contrast the Sherriff’s wonderful family home life with his brutal violation of Jennifer, but apart from make us loathe the despicable character even more this isn’t used interestingly either.
© Shaun Anderson 2011