*** Out of 5
Release Date- September 24th, 2013
Running Time- 106-Minutes
Screenplay- Neil Elman & Thomas H. Fenton
Director- Steven R. Monroe
Starring- Jemma Dallender, Yavor Baharoff, Joe Absolom, Aleksandar Aleksiev, Mary Stockley, Valentine Pelka
When it comes to modern day exploitation films my biggest problem is they are more often than not too polished. The original 1978 version of I Spit on Your Grave while by no means a great film and from a filmmaking side quite shoddy, but that actually helps the film and makes it feel a little more real. One of my all time favorite horror films is Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker Last House on the Left, which is raw, gritty and brutal and a bit rough around the edges and that’s exactly how an exploitation film should be made. The remake of Last House wasn’t a bad film, but it was a little too polished and lacked that raw edge. That made me a little weary of the I Spit on Your Grave remake. While it was one of the better remakes and generally well made it does lack that raw feel of the original though with that said director Steven Monroe didn’t make the film too polished, which is a good thing, but it still lacked that gritty feel exploitation films need. So upon the release of I Spit on Your Grave 2 I was again a little weary, but hopeful since the remake was actually fairly decent.
The problem with I Spit on Your Grave 2 is it was more or less the same as the original and remake and really adds nothing new. That can be said about many horror sequels, but at least in the case of Friday the 13th they are body count films whereas films like this aren’t meant to be entertaining. As you’re watching the film it’s like you’ve already seen it, but with that said the film does have its moments and turns out a bit better than expected. Exploitation films are most associated with horror films, but there are many exploitation films that aren’t horror and don’t feature rape either. I think those who don’t know the exploitation film are the ones this film will have the biggest impact on. The violence against Katie (Dallender) as well as her multiple rapes and beatings are generally unsettling, but it also however feels a little forced in the case of shock value for the sake of it whereas the original 1978 I Spit on Your Grave perhaps could have been shock value for the sake of it, but yet it felt more natural in how it happened.
Katie a model living in New York sees an ad offering a free photo shoot she attends it, but things take a downturn when she’s asked to pose nude so she leaves. One of the men shows up at her place and rapes her. He than calls his brothers to help clean up the mess he made and they abduct Katie where she’s raped again, beaten and left for dead. However she survives and seeks out revenge on her attackers.
The screenplay by Neil Elman & Thomas H. Fenton is more or less the same exact thing of the last two with nothing really differently added. The script is basically a rehash and the 3rd time around its now becoming a tired act. While not a bad script per se it’s just never really all that great. The plot twists are ones you can see coming from a million miles away and while there was some effort here results were a bit lacking.The one issue I have is how the villains get Katie from the US to another country. Across state lines ok sure that can easily be done. But getting her from the States to to Bulgaria is a bit too much to buy into and it’s never explained either. Characters are also never really different than past films and again the script isn’t terrible or anything, but its a rehash of the past two and I suppose with the concept it doesn’t leave much room for creativity.
Steven R. Monroe who helmed the remake returns for the sequel and like I said the remake while not great was one of the better remakes and the film as a whole turned out well. But with the sequel results aren’t the same. The tone of the film actually feels more in line with Hostel than it does I Spit on Your Grave. Pacing is alright, but there are some very sluggish moments such as after Katie is left for dead and survives the scenes tend to go on and on and the pace really slows down and I guess perhaps these scenes were needed to further set up Katie’s breakdown, but it could have been edited since it really zaps the pace the longer it goes on. The rape and torture scenes while unsettling do seem to be sake value for the sake of it as one scene has one of the villains urinating on Katie and again while disturbing it just seems like it was done for shock value. The strongest scene however was the first time Katie was raped. As she’s attacked and struggling one of her neighbors shows up to see what’s going on and as he enters the room he’s stabbed numerous times and as he falls to the floor dying he’s forced to watch Katie get raped and this was highly disturbing and the most effective scene of the film. But again after that it just seemed like shock value for the sake of it even if sure a bit unsettling. I also think there was an opportunity missed as well with the setting. Katie is alone in a foreign country where she’s been raped, tortured and left for dead but I don’t think much was done with this to really make her feel helpless and isolated. Overall Steven R. Monroe delivers a well made film for the most part, but it’s just too much the same and that in the end is want sort of sinks the film.
Jemma Dallender is terrific in her role as Katie. The only problem is Jemma is failed by her writers, but her performance was the brightest spot of the film.
Overall I Spit on Your Grave 2 was an average at best film. While not overly stylized it lacks the gritty feel needed for a film like this and since its nothing more than a rehash it very much hinders the film. When all is said and done the films till turns out a bit better than maybe it should have, but we’ve already seen this film done twice before and both times were better.