Posted in: Review

I Spit on Your Grave 2

The rape/revenge fantasy is, unfortunately, alive and well in the sickening, stupid I Spit on Your Grave 2. Not really a sequel of the recent remake (or connected to it in any way, for that matter) and more or less limited by the directorial approach it chooses, what we wind up with here is another example of exploitation aimed at the underdeveloped and ill-mannered. This is a movie which manufactures scares out of bloodletting, wound infecting, testicle smashing, and various other injuries inflicted after a young woman (Jemma Dallender) is defiled, shipped off to Eastern Europe (the veritable hotbed of such Hostel-oriented tortures), and forced to fend for herself.

Katie lives in big, impersonal New York City. She wants to be a model so badly she can skip several meals. Needing new headshots for her portfolio, she answers an ad placed by a photographer named Ivan (Joe Absolom). With his brothers Georgy (Yavor Baharoff) and Nikolay (Aleksandar Aleksiev ) in attendance, the shutterbug makes some inappropriate suggestions and Katie leaves. Later, the guys show up at her home, rape and drug her, and ship her off to their home office in… Bulgaria. Waiting up confused, she goes to the police, but they turn her over to a rape crisis counselor (Mary Stockley) who betrays her. She is further brutalized and buried alive. After a convenient escape, Katie is befriended by a priest (Valentine Pelka) and plots her revenge. As you could predict, she systematically traps her captors and commits all manner of horrific acts on them as payback for what they did to her.

If the dictionary definition of pornography is something with no redeeming social or artistic value, then I Spit on Your Grave 2 is pure XXX peep show down on 42nd Street smut. It contains inhuman acts committed by equally inhuman beings, all for the sake of an ever-cheapening thrill. This is horror in the most obtuse sense, terrifying because of the sadism involved, dreadful because — frankly — no other word fits. The performances are routine and cloaked in cliche, the scripting just one long setup to the last act grotesqueries (and even those aren’t so great). Director Steven R. Monroe, who helmed the far superior 2010 revamp of the notorious original, shows no signs of creative growth here. Instead, his big addition to his otherwise strained cinematic aesthetic is the inclusion of handheld shaky cam sequences, which makes an already nauseating experience even more repellent.

This is a grim, god-awful experience, the kind of movie that sets your teeth on edge and makes you wince with the mere suggestions of where it will go next. It doesn’t always arrive at these predetermined destinations, but getting there is just as much a chore as trying to decipher the filmmaker’s motives. Sure, the original film became a cult classic, instigating more hate and vitriol than a dozen similar titles and the remake was a smart, fresh take on the same tired material. But without a connection to the past, without a link to the present, all we have is something akin to I Spit on Your Grave as Well. The result repugnance without purpose, atrocities offered up as viable amusement.

As someone who adores gore and can’t get enough of the various torture porn offshoots, this critic couldn’t stomach I Spit on Your Grave 2. It’s not the arterial spray or lack of coherent plotting. It’s not the cruelty or the disturbing obsession with filth and feces. It’s not even the aura of amateurishness surrounding the entire production. Instead, this movie is nothing short of disgust without direction… or a legitimate reason to exist.