Director: R.D. Braunstein
Writer: Daniel Gilboy
Stars: Sarah Butler, Jennifer Landon, Gabriel Hogan
A lot of people are probably saying to themselves, “There was a second one?” upon seeing this review for I Spit On Your Grave 3. Yes. Yes, there was and it was unrelenting in both it’s depiction of rape and violence, but that’s what these movies are known for.
In 1978 Meir Zarchi unleashed the original I Spit on Your Grave and rape/ revenge movies have been trying to replicate that lightening in a bottle ever since. The vital component that most of these imitators are missing is the heart. I know that sounds insane, but Zarchi was inspired to write his movie after having a personal experience with finding a rape victim and taking her to the police. The treatment this victim received from the people who were supposed to protect her made Zarchi angry and it also made him wonder what would happen if a victim doled out her own revenge rather than be victimized again by the justice system.
Zarchi would later be a part of the 2010 remake that kept the same underlying spirit of the film, but also dialed up the gore to an 11. Sarah Butler would take on the role of Jennifer Hill despite, initially, being hesitant to tackle it. Ultimately, Butler manages to do just as well as Camille Keaton did in the original. These ladies walk a very fine line of repulsing you with their vengeance fueled actions, yet keeping you on their side.
Inevitably, I Spit on Your Grave 2 would soon follow and it would focus on a completely new character. Zarchi would not be involved in this sequel, but he would return for the third entry into the most unlikely franchise ever.
Sarah Butler returns as Jennifer Hill, but she has moved to a new city, adopted the name Angela and has also, begrudgingly, begun attending a support group for rape victims. She also suffers from very real daydreams of violently killing anyone who makes her feel unsafe and this is where the film actually has a very real message to share.
In a way, I Spit On Your Grave 3 picks up where the first movie leaves off in the sense that we will see how Jennifer grapples with her mental and emotional scars. From standing at the bus stop, to giving money to a homeless man to going for a run, Jennifer encounters men who leer and say crass things to her. Some may find this to be an over exaggeration, but this woman can only speak for herself when she says that I found this all to be very realistic. The world is an antagonistic place for women on a good day, but what if you’re a woman who has experienced a brutal sexual assault?
Just in case you are unsure why Jennifer is leery of men in general, the movie opens up with flashbacks of her rape from the first film and even in small bits, it’s still gruesome. Thankfully, Jennifer befriends Marla, a sassy gal at the rape support group who has no problem vocalizing her anger towards her abuser and the legal system. Jennifer and Marla begin hanging out together and while Marla speaks freely about getting her own revenge on rapists, Jennifer plays the quiet, non violent type. After a couple of escalating pranks and an untimely death, Jennifer embraces her dark side and sets out to right some wrongs.
To say that the kills in this movie are over the top in their depiction of violence would be to severely undersell them. Gentlemen, I can almost guarantee that you will no longer be interested in random blow jobs from sexy strangers after you see this film. I thought I had seen everything. And then I saw this movie. We will just leave it at that.
Up until all of the violence, however, Jennifer is portrayed as an actual human being. She’s a woman who is desperately trying to move forward with her life and not let past experiences control her. Unfortunately, that pesky legal system just doesn’t comply with all of this and as Jennifer’s victims begin to pile up, the pressure from police grows and it’s within the talks at the rape support group where we really glean the injustice that many rape victims feel. In a world where it’s one person’s word against the other’s or someone gets out of prison on good behavior, or worse, is never tried because there isn’t enough evidence, it’s the victims who are forced to live with all of this. This movie does what most don’t in that it actually explores the aftermath of a violent crime without glamorizing the revenge. If anything, the revenge is a turn off. That being said, outside of the gratuitous gore and unnecessary twist at the end, I Spit On Your Grave 3 is, strangely, a thoughtful look at rape culture, sexual assault and it’s effects on it’s victims and, by extension, their loved ones.
Images: IMDb & flickeringmyth.com