"I Spit on Your Grave" Offers Barbarian Angel Revenge
SyFy Network house director Steven R. Monroe remakes Meir Zarchi's 1978 quintessential revenge-rape/rape-revenge film. Jennifer (Sarah Butler) rents a cabin in black-mud, backwoods Louisiana to work in peace on her second novel. An encounter with a local gas-station attendant (Jeff Branson) that crackles with class anxiety starts him and his cronies percolating the idea of knocking the laptop-and-white-wine "city bitch" off her pedestal. A nighttime home invasion becomes all the more lurid with the false-salvation arrival of dawn and Andrew Howard's rasp-voiced sheriff. After absorbing every abuse save a coup de grace, Jennifer's despoiled body slips away. There's little chance to judge our heroine's prowess as a novelist, but she proves herself very talented at rapping her rapists over the head and devising horrible tortures for them when she returns as avenging angel, which is convincing as long as Butler doesn't talk. These second-act torments aren't merely premeditated but blueprinted. The mirror image of the cabin reflected in dark, boggy water works as a metaphor for the movie's structure. Everything that happens in the first part happens again — only in reverse and more so. When every injury is repaid with interest, this self-destroying work has nowhere to go but to the credits. Such symmetry is a dismal, barbarian sort of perfection.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.