Dir: Steven R Moore. US. 2013. 105mins
The idea of spinning I Spit On Your Grave into a franchise is cynical and unwelcome. Director Steven R. Monroe, who has some interesting credits (House Of 9), returns from the 2010 remake of Meir Zarchi’s controversial 1978 rape-revenge drama, suggesting his career prospects have been limited rather than opened up by that effective if unnecessary effort.
Monroe’s first working-over of this material was at least competent, but this is at once too ugly to laugh at and too ridiculous to take seriously.
The script from Thomas Fenton (a Saw sequel) and Neil Elman (Mongolian Death Worm) isn’t a sequel, just yet another routine restating of a plot that was already conventional (see Hannie Caulder, They Call Her One-Eye) when Zarchi set out to make a film he intended to be called Day Of The Woman. The film, which premiered at the UK’s FrightFest event, has a brief US theatrical run prior to its home entertainment release.
Midwestern model Katie (British actress Jemma Dallender, from Community) is struggling in New York. Needing a new portfolio, she answers a small ad which offers her a free modeling session, but backs out mid-shoot when sleazeball shutterbug Ivan (Joe Absalom, from EastEnders) asks her to take her top off. Georgy (Yavor Baharov), Ivan’s seemingly feebleminded brother, shows up at Katie’s apartment to give her the non-nudie photos, but winds up raping her and killing an interfering neighbour.
This leads to Katie being drugged and dragged off to a basement with a mattress where she wakes up to find she’s being raped again and is then urinated on by yet another unpleasant brother, Nick (Aleksandar Aleksiev). After more abuse more, she escapes to find she’s in Bulgaria (having been shipped in a trunk), where – in a variation of the seeking-help-from-the-wrong-person gambit that’s been a genre cliché since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - a suspicious cop hands her over to a woman (Mary Stockley) who says she’s from a rape crisis centre but is actually one of the sex trafficking gang.
Katie is hauled back to the cellar and tormented more, sold off to connoisseur pervert Valko (Peter Silverleaf), who enjoys electrocuting her.
Katie escapes yet again, wanders about Sofia, and meets a priest (Valentine Pelka) who is concerned by her obsession with the ‘vengeance is mine’ passage of the Bible. Then, of course, she tracks down all the baddies and avenges herself on them in gory, sexualised manners (including an explicit vice to Ivan’s genitals).
It’s grimly acted, ploddingly written (‘killing you would be too easy – I want you to have the same experience as me’), mercilessly protracted at 105 minutes, and indulges in every demonise-the-Eastern-European scumbag cliché of the played-out Hostel craze. Monroe’s first working-over of this material was at least competent, but this is at once too ugly to laugh at and too ridiculous to take seriously.
Production company/International sales: Cinetel Films, www.cinetelfilms.com
Producers: Lisa M Hansen, Paul Hertzberg
Executive producers: Jeff Klein, Gary Needle, Alan Ostroff
Screenplay: Neil Elman, Thomas Fenton
Cinematography: Damian Bromley
Editor: Kristina Hamilton-Grobler
Production designer: Severina Stoyanova
Music: Corey A Jackson
Main cast: Jemma Dallender, Joe Absolom, Yavor Bahrov, Aleksander Aleksiev, Mary Stockley, Valentine Palka