I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine (Movie Review)

I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine (Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: Five years after being brutally raped and left for dead, Jennifer Hill is slowly starting to pick up the pieces and put her life on a healthy new track. Yet, when a new friend from group therapy is fatally violated, Jennifer's fragile psyche is pushed to the breaking point. The only refrain on her brain: Vengeance is Mine!

REVIEW: To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn't even aware that there was a second installment of the newfangled I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE franchise, never-mind a third. However, as an ardent fan of the Meir Zarchi original and semi-supporter of Steven R. Monroe's nasty if needless 2010 rehash, I was quite glad to see star Sarah Butler return to such dark and deplorable material, even if Monroe has passed the reins over to sophomore director R.D. Braunstein (100 DEGREES BELOW ZERO). Now, less beholden to knowable horror tropes and more reliant on an extremely graphic and gruesome tenets of a vigilante revenge picture, VENGEANCE IS MINE is a somewhat slickly produced variant that delivers three or four moments of searing sadomasochistic memorabilia. Not a great film by any stretch, but if you're turned on by shocking bouts of excessive bodily torment, especially on a woman's behalf, then by all means give I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 3 a roll in the dirt.

It's been five years since Jennifer Hill (Butler) barely survived an unimaginably barbarous sexual assault. She's on the mend, but still nowhere close to 100%. In fact, she still suffers horrible daytime nightmares - daymares - in which she can't help but recount that bloodily ill-fated day through haunting visions and tormented hallucinations. As a means of recovery, at the behest of her personal therapist (the-rapist), Jennifer agrees to attend a group therapy session for likeminded sufferers of torturous sexual violation. Jen's reluctant at first, but soon opens up to the idea after meeting a girl named Marla (Jennifer Landon), a cool leather-clad rocker type chick who also detests the notion of therapy as a means of healing. A bond between the two is quickly forged. Their collective anger and bitterness mounts, boils over, and soon the two track down a known male abuser (repeat offender) who has somehow skirted the law. Well, the two gals roll up on the dude, bash his head in a few times with a pipe, and warn the sick sumbitch that they'll be closely keeping tabs on him. If he steps out of line again, the gals won't be so nice.

Yet Jennifer's newfound kinship is suddenly quashed when Marla turns up dead one day. And not just dead, but viciously raped, beaten and butchered. Jen's irate. Apoplectic. Vengeful. She vows to serve gory recompense to her friend's assailants, no matter what it takes or what consequences she may suffer as a result. This includes dolling up and diving headlong into the fire. She baits and taunts known street rapists and vile lowlifes, often luring them in only to exact some of the gnarliest and nastiest bits of violence upon them. I don't want to give too much away here, but we're talking extremely graphic penile mutilation, aggressive anal assault, the works. Say what you will about the story or the acting, which the former I found below but the latter to be a tad bit above par for a movie of this ilk, you're not likely to shake the three or four moments of unremitting carnage anytime soon after seeing it. Now, does that equal a good movie, perhaps not. But honestly, one of the most common descriptors for a spate of recent low-budget genre joints that we've reviewed around here is unmemorable. Not the case for, at the bare minimum, the compensatory violence in VENGEANCE IS MINE. It's that gnarly!

With that in mind, there was one thing about the violence in the flick that irked me quite a bit. Early on, as a result of those twisted day terrors Jen suffers, a lot of the flash-bang mayhem ends up taking place only in her mind - be they future fantasies or recalling past transgressions - instead of taking place in physical reality. A bit of a copout frankly. And not just a cheap way to depict gratuitous savagery, but in a way, the pattern becomes predictable. After awhile you begin to suspect that a violent storm is just a figment of Jen's warped imagination. It grows a bit tiresome. That said, when the real life torture does finally play out, it tends to hit harder than most movies that attempt similar subject matter. Truly, this one ain't for the squeamish.

But by the same token, it's not for the overly sentimental either. Not sure why, but even through all that poor Jen endures, there's an emotional dearth that really hinders the overall impact of the violence. Perhaps it's Butler's dour demeanor, sans more than a single smile or two, but whatever the case, the emotional resonance here comes nowhere near as close to say, what we feel for Camille Keaton in the 1978 original. In fact, aside from her sexy wardrobe - the power-suits, naughty schoolgirl uniform, the sultry red dress, etc. - I actually found Jennifer Landon's character more likeable. Perhaps if we'd have actually seen her grisly demise, there'd be more pure pathos to cling to. As it is, the most substantial bits of VENGEANCE IS MINE is when the actual fits of revenge capture the screen. But isn't that what these movies are made for?

In total, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 3 more or less succeeds at what it aims for...to portray holy-shit moments of violent revenge. Beyond that, there isn't too much to get excited about, save for Butler's much welcomed return. While Braunstein may not showcase the same visual panache of Steven Monroe, I dug the decision to set the film in the grim and grimy cityscapes and dingy back-alleys, providing stark contrast to the sun-dappled countryside settings of the first flicks. While certainly uneven, the choice to buck franchise formula and approach the material from a different angle ought to be commended, particularly when still retaining the same baleful brand of shock-cinema Zarchi's original engendered. Put it this way, fans of this kind of film are likely to be satiated by the two or three grisliest moments of butchery. And if you're not a fan of this kind of film, it likely won't win you over any time soon. VENGEANCE IS MINE preaches to the converted.

Extra Tidbit: VENGEANCE IS MINE hits limited theaters October 9th, DVD October 20th and the internet on November 29th.
Source: AITH



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