I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2
These rape-revenge films leave you with a certain queasy uncomfortableness in watching them. Are you watching exploitation or can it be considered legitimate horror to watch a woman being degraded and abused? If Steven R. Monroe soft pedals the rape scenes in the first film, is he being tasteful and non-exploitative or else watering down and avoiding dealing with the reality to exploitatively focus on the revenge scenes (both of which he has been accused of)? If you are watching horror for the catharsis of seeing a film that goes into dark and disturbing places then is watching a woman being raped and degraded pornography or a legitimate portrayal of the grimness of such acts certainly, these I Spit on Your Grave films achieve a rawness in ways that the treatment of rape in mainstream films like The Accused (1988) do not. In their defence, the I Spit on Your Grave films dont appear to be designed to titillate and it is hard to imagine anybody but the sickest of puppies getting turned on by them. I am not sure I have the answers. Finishing watching the I Spit on Your Grave films leaves you wanting to conduct the moral equivalent of taking a shower. Certainly, if the films tread an ambiguous line between exploitation and legitimate horror, then this is surely stretched to breaking point by the idea of conducting a sequel to a remake of I Spit on Your Grave.
All of ones moral misgivings about what they are watching are even further confused by the fact that I Spit on Your Grave 2 is an undeniably well-made film. Damnit it all, it if were badly made, it would be so much easier to dismiss and condemn it. It took me some time to get into it. At the outset, I found it hard to buy Jemma Dallendars motivations about going to an obscure backroom studio for some free modelling shots and then getting all surprised and outraged at being asked to take her top off (such a firm dividing line between unclothed and clothed modelling doesnt exist in the profession where models will regularly pose unclothed without it having to be considered a porn shoot). Nevertheless, when it comes to the scene where Yavor Baharoff breaks into Jemma Dallendars apartment and forcibly has his way with her while the stabbed body of her landlord (Michael Dixon) lies dying on the ground beside her, the sequel hits in with an undeniable impact.
Thereafter, Monroe takes us through Jemma Dallendars progressive brutalisation being chained up in a cellar where buckets of water are thrown over her, where she is stripped naked, urinated on, stun gunned and even forced to fellate the stun gun after it is placed in her mouth, and punched and beaten until her face is bloody and unrecognisable. In the first film, Steven R. Monroe soft-pedalled and played down the rape scenes but here gives us something that is far more shocking and brutal in effect. Unlike the first film, which placed most of its focus on Sarah Butler as a shadowy figure hiding in the woods and taking grimly sadistic revenge on her abusers, Monroe reverses that here and places most of the focus on Jemma Dallendars degradation. The scenes of her taking revenge afterwards show her as less a shadowy hunter than someone frightened and shell-shocked trying to eke out an existence in the sewers of Sofia.
I Spit on Your Grave 2 should be considered more of an alternate reworking than an actual sequel it shares no characters or continuity with the first film, for instance. The screenplay offers some interesting twists on the familiar. One of these is that while the other two films concerned a heroine who leaves the city for the country and is brutalised by the locals, the film here keeps the locations entirely urban. What it does do is replace the countryside with is a trip to Bulgaria (where the filmmakers have gone and shot on location, employing a number of local actors in the supporting cast). This of course puts I Spit on Your Grave 2 in the same territory as Hostel (2005), which played on very similar ideas of Eastern Europe as a wild frontier where civilised decency has collapsed and the locals treated Westerners with predatory cruelty.
This was followed by a further sequel I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine (2015).
Steven R. Monroes other genre films are:- The Contract (2002), House of 9 (2005), It Waits (2005), Left in Darkness (2006), Sasquatch Mountain (2006), Dual (2008), Ogre (2008), Storm Cell (2008), Ice Twisters (2009), Wyvern (2009), Mongolian Death Worm (2010), Jabberwocky (2011), MoniKa (2012), End of the World (2013), Grave Halloween (2013) and The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015).