Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 13, 2015)
Back in 1978 I Spit On Your Grave found itself classified as a shocking, disturbing movie that has maintained infamy over the years. The filmís 2010 remake, on the other hand, sank like a stone. It barely played on US movie screens so even with a modest $2 million budget, it appears to have lost money.
Perhaps it found life on home video, as the 2010 Grave has now churned out two direct-to-video sequels, a run that continues with 2015ís I Spit On Your Grave III: Vengeance Is Mine. In the first film, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) holed up in a remote country area so she could write a book. Tormented and sexually assaulted by locals, she took matters into her own violent hands.
Vengeance picks up a few years down the road and shows that Jennifer remains haunted by her experiences. Despite a new town and a new identity, she canít get past the horrors that previously befell her.
Jenniferís world turns darker when her friend Marla (Jennifer Landon) gets murdered. After the killer goes free, Jennifer decides to take action and settle scores on her own, an endeavor that expands far beyond Marlaís situation.
Though I never saw 2013ís I Spit On Your Grave 2, I get the impression that it offered more of a ďstory in the same vein as the originalĒ and less of a true sequel. As far as I can tell, Grave 2 didnít feature any of the first filmís characters; it just offered another woman who went through experiences similar to Jenniferís.
That makes Vengeance an actual sequel, as it continues Jenniferís tale. This premise offers potential, as I think the story could become a good exploration of how someone deals with traumatic experiences.
Unfortunately, Vengeance never attempts anything deep or introspective. Instead, it offers little more than cheap titillation and a crude revenge fantasy.
Much of the problem stems from the bizarrely unfocused narrative. Perhaps some of this is intentional, as maybe the film intends us to get inside Jenniferís damaged psyche.
It doesnít. Whatever pretensions Vengeance may sport, it sacrifices them in service of violence and stupidity. The film adopts a series of odd viewpoints and maintains little consistency in that regard, as it canít ever decide what position it wants to espouse.
This leaves the story as a muddled mess, and it means Jennifer ends up as a strangely unsympathetic protagonist. It takes work to turn a woman with Jenniferís past into an unlikable irritant, but Vengeance does so. It makes her seem so angry and unhinged that the viewer quickly forgets her sad history and dislikes her.
Again, I think itís logical that Jennifer comes across the way she does Ė clearly someone who went through her earlier experiences would have substantial, ongoing concerns. The problem here is that the film does nothing to ingratiate her to the audience. Jennifer just turns into a psychotic Ė sheís so off the chain that we donít cheer for her attempts at revenge like we should.
It doesnít help that the movie barely bothers to set up these instances. For instance, we learn almost nothing about Marlaís killer, so we need to just take it as a leap of faith that he deserves to die. Perhaps the character does need to be punished, but without reasonable exposition, the audience gets no satisfaction.
Despite the movieís desire to comment on psychological damage and social justice, it really does exist solely to give us some gratuitous violence, and in that vein, it excels. If you enjoy graphic nastiness, youíll find some choice shots here.
Personally, I donít care much for that material. I could accept the unpleasant visuals if they served the story in some way, but they donít. The violence exists just to add some cheap charge to the tale.
It doesnít succeed. At its core, Vengeance has potential, but the end result seems so unfocused and random that it flops.