The Confessional is a periodic article that is at the heart and soul of Cinefessions. It features a writer discussing a film that he or she previously missed out on, be it a classic of cinema, or simply a movie that they’ve always wanted to see but never have, and often in detail. Entering the Confessional today is Chris Ranson to discuss a film that his mother (rightly) made him avoid as a child: I Spit on Your Grave.
Title: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
Director: Meir Zarchi
Runtime: 101 minutes
Viewer: Chris Ranson
During our second Cinefessions Podcast we brought up the idea of our own 12 personal “Cinefessions”, or films that we should have seen but never have. The lists were all created, but the podcast took a brief hiatus due to personal schedules.
Back in November I watched I Spit on Your Grave for no real reason other than being bored at home one night and realizing it was on Netflix. I completely forgot about it being on my Cinefessions list until a few days before the recording of our latest podcast (episode 03), and figured I’d type up one per month for the year. Branden forced my hand a little early during the recording, and you can hear my thoughts in the podcast (for the record, we don’t pre-plan any of our podcast discussions).
As a kid, I was allowed to watch almost anything that I wanted, so a healthy dose of horror was always on the menu. There were always two VHS tapes at the video store that I wasn’t allowed to rent, thought, per my mother’s instructions. The first was The Last House on the Left, which always annoyed me because I loved Wes Craven and Nightmare on Elm Street. The other was, obviously, I Spit on Your Grave, which offers a scantly clad woman with a knife as its cover art.
In most regards, I was spoiled, but I knew that if I wasn’t allowed to view these then they must have been really bad. It’s funny, but even after having the internet for 15 odd years, having Netflix for 8 years, and even working at a Blockbuster Video for a few years, I had never seen I Spit on Your Grave.
Grave follows the haunting tale of Jennifer, who goes to the country to finish writing a novel she is working on. She’s not too bad on the eyes, and the local men want to hook up with her. One day she’s out and about, and four men jump her and proceed to rape her. (Just another day in the country, right?) She’s left damaged and broken, but manages to wander back into their grasps another two times, getting raped again and again. Now, completely broken, she seeks her revenge.
I have one problem with the film and that comes in the multiple rape scenario. It’s highly unlikely she would encounter these monsters that many times, or she just has zero luck. With that being said, this is a tough film to watch, and I don’t say that because of the kills. The rape scenes are tightly shot, making the viewer feel the violation. This is done so that the viewer can feel her rage as the final act happens. I briefly talked about it on the podcast, but what I found really amazing is that this film was made in 1978. It features moments where Jennifer asks one of her attackers why her, and he replies with a line about the fact that she was wearing short shorts and was “just asking for it”. What surprised me even further is that it is now 2014, and this is still a common “reason” for these actions (the woman was asking for it). One can say that, as a society, these types of films have desensitized us, but I call BS on that.
What is viewed in I Spit on Your Grave, while fake, comes off as very real. It’s awful, nasty, crude and not the least bit arousing. I can see why I wasn’t allowed to view it as a child because I’m sure my little brain couldn’t have handled it at the age of seven.
So herein lies my problem: I enjoyed this film. It’s still shocking with it’s imagery and the acting isn’t too shabby considering most of the actors never appeared in anything else. The nudity is top notch for both male and female viewers, and gore hounds should really enjoy the kills in the final act. Hell, the final kill alone makes the entire experience almost worthwhile. It’s nauseating to view as the blood flows, and you realize what just happened. It’s almost the perfect redemption.