Published on January 21st, 2016 | by Brando Quiring1
I Spit on Your Grave and Unnecessary Sequels
How about a couple of unnecessary sequels to a totally unnecessary reboot? Is there anything worth watching in the I Spit on Your Grave franchise?
In the world of unnecessary sequels there are two types of films: the first are the ones that you watch and end up hating yourself for wasting your time watching such garbage. And the ones you think are going to be trash and end up being welcome additions to the story. In the case of the sequels to I Spit on Your Grave, we have one of each.
1978’s I Spit on Your Grave was an unbelievably controversial exploitation film that had people up in arms over its graphic depiction of a 20ish-minute rape scene. Not to mention the gruesome revenge of the assaulted woman as she slashes her way through her attackers. The 2010 remake ratchets up all the things that had people raging against the original, including a more graphic rape scene, a crooked cop, and much more graphic, Saw-like death scenes during the third act revenge. As controversial as both of these films were, they were self-contained stories with beginnings, middles, and endings and while the endings were a little vague in both versions they didn’t leave any unanswered questions. That being said, I was blown away to discover that there exists not one, but two sequels.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 was released straight-to-video in 2013 and it is an example of a film that tries to suck you in by trying to one-up everything that made the first film noteworthy, namely, the graphic rape and the subsequent ultra graphic revenge. How do you one-up a 20-minute rape scene? You have a 5-minute rape scene that includes a brutal stabbing that the victim is forced to watch, followed by a kidnapping (more on that in a moment), which itself is followed by a 15-minute rape scene that involves urine, a cattle prod and a dirty basement.
Aside from the sexual assault, the premise itself has been ratcheted way up. In the first film, all of the action happened around a very small lake community; the sequel is set in New York and after the initial attack it moves to Bulgaria. Bulgaria — you read that right. After the attack the girl is drugged, stuffed into a trunk, and then put onto a commercial airliner and flown all the way to Eastern Europe. There, she can be part of the supra-lucrative sex trade. Once she has been taken advantage of by the kidnappers, (who have taken the time to kidnap an American girl and transport her thousands of miles in order to sell her to rich freaks), they decide to bury her alive in the basement.
Following her improbable escape from her own grave, the girl lives in the sewers for what seems to be weeks before she takes revenge upon her attackers in way that can only be described as improbable. One of which includes rubbing rat poop into open wounds in order to encourage infection.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 is the perfect example of a sequel that not only doesn’t need to exist but is wholly vicious and cruel. It’s only purpose is to make you feel uncomfortable and angry, not only because of the subject matter, but because of the sheer impossibility of virtually every situation is simply an insult to your intelligence. How did they get her to Bulgaria? How did they kidnap her from a police station? How did she survive weeks in a sewer with no food, a broken leg, and several open wounds? All are questions that you will not care to answer because the movie is so awful that you will want to forget it the moment its 100 minute runtime finally comes to an end.
Contrast that with 2015’s I Spit on Your Grave 3: Vengeance is Mine. I watched them back to back. After number two, I was expecting this movie to make me regret literally every choice I have ever made in my life that led me to Vengeance is Mine. However I was pleasantly surprised with what was presented here. It seemed that the film makers heard all the criticism levelled at the first one and set out to make a sequel that, while still being totally unneeded, at least adds to the story and is a fun little slasher flick in its own right.
We catch up with the woman from the first film (Jennifer Hills) who has changed her name and moved to the big city in an effort to move on with her life. She is taking counseling and even joins a rape survivors support group where she befriends a disturbed young woman who feels that the rapists who go unpunished deserve justice. While haunted by visions of violence and having been clearly pushed past her breaking point, Jennifer does not believe in using violence to solve problems until her friend is again assaulted and killed (off camera). This sets Jennifer off on a rapist-slaying rampage where she lures people into attacking her and then flays them in the streets. It is a terrific, gore-stained movie with heavy psychological overtones and a likable cast of characters that we care about. It features a climax befitting a movie of this surprisingly high calibre.
I Spit on Your Grave 3: Vengeance is Mine is the perfect example of an unnecessary sequel that does most everything right. While it really has no reason to exist it is still a great ride that takes us away from the uncomfortable violence of the original and into a more comfortable slasher flick that is played for fun, rather than to make you salivate for bloody revenge and then make you uncomfortable with the silliness of the violence. I won’t spoil it here, but it also has one of the single greatest one-liners ever committed to film.
The original I Spit on Your Grave was a film that made a lot of people angry, and justifiably so due to its graphic depiction of some very taboo subject matter. The sequels made a whole new generation of people angry by using that same subject matter as a setup for a Saw movie, but at least in the end we got a movie that is thoughtful, lots of fun and doesn’t use sexual assault as a tagline.