It’s almost comical how standards have changed. In 1978, Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) walked around nude for most of I Spit on Your Grave, the sheer lack of directorial talent keeping the camera focused on her body. The violence? While graphic, the editing was such that nothing lingered on screen. In 2010, much of the nudity is excised, carefully edited to avoid anything too graphic, Jennifer now played by Sarah Butler. The violence? Totally kosher.
In fact, as Sarah extracts her revenge on her rapists, it’s far worse than before. American society is an odd thing, gasping in horror at any nudity, yet playfully watching as someone is fed their own privates after they’re chopped off with hedge trimmers. Go figure.
I Spit on Your Grave is no worse or really any better than the original. It has fancier camera work, the constantly swaying screen an attempt to make it seem more real. In the end, it misses the original’s mark purely because of how static the 1978 version was. It’s glossier, the digital photography and desaturated look hiding nothing from view, while the film grain of the first added another gritty layer.
It’s all a wash, both films impossibly uncomfortable to sit through and watch as “entertainment.” Jennifer is far more sadistic here, more of a take on current movie standards than anything else. The addition of a new character, an authority figure in the form of a sheriff, adds nothing to the story other than someone else to rape Jennifer and suffer a grisly death. That’s all the audience seems to want anymore from their horror movies, the overbearing gore effects plentiful, while the typical aspects of the “art” fall to the wayside. Who needs plot when a character is having their eyeballs pecked out by a bunch of crows?
Who knows why this was even remade in the first place, or why anyone would even want to be in such a movie. The cult status of the original exists purely because of how graphic it was, not for its storytelling ability. What else can be done with this simplistic tale of vengeance? Nothing, and the remake proves it. Let it die and hopefully be forgotten.
As mentioned above, Grave was shot digitally, the color correction phase sucking most of the saturation right out of the frame. That’s suitable for this grim material, pale flesh tones, bland blood reds, and earthy environments calling little attention to themselves. While not eye-catching, it shouldn’t be in the first place.
Unfortunately, either the source or the digital intermediate took the black levels out too. The resulting images lack any dimensionality or depth. The whole movie is flat and uninspired, the AVC encode not at fault here. Scenes during the day take on an overly bright look, the hot contrast blowing out almost every detail on the police car. Windows bloom as light pours in, and lamps flare up when dealing with interiors.
As expected, it adds to the washed out appearance, taking fine texture with it too. Medium shots are severely lacking the precision they need, not from any focal issues (although these are present too), but from persistent softness. It is at times bizarre to see the local plant life so refined, clear, and sharp, only to have the actors appear so lifeless. In close, there are few complaints, the definition ramping up if the focus is intended to be clear. Clothing is discernible based solely on what it is made of, and for better or worse, the gore effects are easily appreciated.
A minute level of noise dots the image, a few of the nighttime interiors revealing some digital artifacts. There is nothing significantly wrong here in terms of this disc itself. Compression is dealt with cleanly, transparently if you will, and everything looks accurate to the source.
There’s not much to this remake’s audio design. Whereas the original lacked any score, this one adds a minimal layer of droning cues for atmospheric effect, presented via this TrueHD mix faultlessly. Rarely does it reach a heavy, overbearing peak, the loudest moments usually some screams or some gunfire. The latter registers slightly in the subwoofer, the impact minimal. A marginal echo effect swirls through the surrounds in the open air.
Ambiance is left, bird chirps adding an element to the forest environments. Some crows are heard dropping in for a meal during one of the kills, moving front to back. Before any danger kicks in, there are a variety of noises, from doors slamming shut, creaks in the wood, and other various effects used to creep out the audience. These come from a variety of directions, the stereo channels used just as well as the rears.
The Revenge of Jennifer Mills is a 16-minute making-of piece, featuring interviews with original director Meir Zarchi and the man behind this remake, Steven R. Monroe. Around 12-minutes of deleted scenes are included here, with trailers and radio spots right behind.