I Spit on Your Grave 2 (Blu-ray Review)

I Spit on your grave 2 tnWhen you talk about films that I would potentially do cartwheels over when I hear there are planned sequels for there aren’t too many outside of the Insidious, Star Wars and Fast & Furious franchises that get my motor running other than this little horror title…I Spit on Your Grave 2.  However, let’s be fair…the horror tag’s not really accurate here.  Yes this is a rape movie, but when you strip away all the animalistic and grotesque moments it’s essentially the finest genre ever crafted…a primal revenge film!  So when word was broken that there was going to be an I Spit on Your Grave 2 I did not care if its initial critical reviews would live up to hype the 2010 film or not, my mind was already made up.  I’d be seeing this flick and if possible reviewing it on my favorite playback format of choice, Blu-ray.  So here we are, three years later.  Not a lot has changed in this word (unless you are talking my personal life), but we have a new one installment in what could become one of my favorite franchises if fate allows it room to exercise and breathe.  Generically labeled, I Spit on Your Grave 2 is not a direct sequel to its predecessor other than the fact that its basic storyline is the same…you know the typical.  A girl gets brutally, raped, tortured and abused and yet somehow musters the strength to escape and exact revenge on her attackers.  I hate the rape scenes, but how sweet the revenge is in these kind of films.  Did I peak your curiosity?  Good!  Let’s talk some good old fashion revenge for the next few minutes here.

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No matter how big a fan I am of these films, I feel the need to address the following and get it off my chest once and for all.  After watching the remake of Meir Zarchi’s controversial 1978 cult film Day of the Woman or also known as I Spit on Your Grave several years ago, I can’t understand how it ever got made.  I respect the cinema classics even if I don’t like them, but wow!  It was painful to watch the original 1978 film…horribly painful.  I could never watch that and say hey let’s do it again to my filmmaking buddies UNLESS my ultimate endgame was to improve upon it by taking the Colonel’s original recipe and making something real, tangible and full of life from it.  And by golly, that’s exactly what director Steven R. Monroe did with it in 2010.  Hallelujah!  Miracles do happen sometimes!  Now don’t get me wrong, please.  I mean no disrespect at all to Meir Zarchi’s creation in 1978.  I still respect it as a cult classic and love the hell out of that poster.  I guess it’s just not my proverbial cup of tea or maybe I’m spoiled by modern times in filmmaking.  I’m a snob sometimes and I apologize for my comments, Meir (to each his own I guess).

So let’s flash forward to present day now, director Steven R. Monroe is back with a fresh new entry in what I hope still has another couple installments left in the franchise.  If he needs me to help produce the next one in the franchise, I’m available, Stephen.  Please send me an email (webmaster at whysoblu dot com) at your earliest convenience.  I believe in this property and I will defend it to my dying day!  Now with that being said, let’s talk in detail about this indirect sequel to one of 2010’s finest.

This film originally premiered August 25th at Film4 FrightFest and saw a limited release theatrically on September 20th…sadly playing nowhere near my Austin, TX address (those Californians have all the fun and they just don’t know how lucky they really have it).  However, that didn’t get my spirits down knowing I would have the Blu-ray in hand very soon.  Although I “gravely” miss Sarah Butler in the titular role, this time out we are treated to another beauty or should I say victim of miss fortune, Katie, portrayed by Jemma Dallender.  Katie is a waitress by trade, but a model by desire.  And like all models…she needs quality pictures.  If this took place in Cleveland, OH, I would have recommended she call photographer Scott T. Morrison, but it does not.  Instead she calls an ad which advertises free professional photos.  That’s mistake number one!  Come on, Katie!  Nothing in life is free.  Everything comes with a price.  Mistake number two happens when Katie actually shows up to the photo studio.  There she meets Ivan (Joe Absolom), the photographer, and his two brothers Nikolai (Aleksander Aleksiev) and Gregory (Yavor Baharoff).  You should run, Katie!  Run now!  Stupid girl!  She doesn’t listen to me (insert sad face).  I think it’s safe to say, you know the rest of the story (insert smiley face).

And that’s the problem.  The rest of the story.  While the formula is safe, tried and trued, is something wrong with me?  I just didn’t enjoy myself this time around as much as I did with the first remake.  It all felt too forced to me.  The kills, while equally disgusting as the first, didn’t feel that satisfying at all.  Maybe it’s because I just didn’t care to much about Jemma as an actress the way I did about Sarah in the first one.  There were also moments when I screamed at the screen saying no!  Don’t show me that!  No, I’m not talking about the inhumane scenes of graphic torture.  I’m talking about the aftermath of the events stricken upon Katie.  I really thought it was going to be a formulaic film  beat by beat like the second Hangover movie was, but they decided to shake it up just a little bit with a cop, a priest and the most annoying fade to blacks I have ever seen.  Really?  You feel the need to fade to black that many times?  You think that’s an artistic thing to do?

Needless to say, my score above reflects my feelings about the film.  It’s not that I hated it, I just feel split about it.  It’s my kind of film, but I was just left hungry for something bigger and better.  I would definitely give a third film in the series a chance, but I’m not expecting much now.  From every act of revenge down to the rebuttal dialogue, the first remake was perfect to me.  This one, not so much so.  I wanted nothing more than to walk away loving this one and bragging to all my horror movie friends that they have to see this one.  I’ll still make the recommendation to them if they are fans of the first film, but also with a disclaimer saying don’t expect any miracles.  I guess in my opinion, I’ll probably never see anything more shocking in life than the film Martyrs.  I could not eat bacon for months.

So before we tackle the Blu-ray specs and how good everything looks and sounds or doesn’t, I thought it would be fun to leave you with this little fact so you know what you’re getting yourself into besides the obvious.  When given to the British Board of Film Classification, Anchor Bay was informed that 27 cuts had to be made to secure an 18 certificate.  In the process of these 27 cuts, a total of 6 minutes were deleted from the original 106 minutes, bringing the film down to 100 minutes.  So if it makes you feel any better about your decision to purchase or watch this one, this one is the unrated cut.

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Anchor Bay brings this twisted tale of revenge to the Blu-ray format with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode framed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation.  I really don’t have any complaints here.  While things aren’t razor sharp here, the transfer is definitely indicative of the tone and settings of the film.  The film’s subject matter is rather depressing and bleak, so it makes sense that the video is a little drab, muted  and dungy.  Depending on the setting (like in a church) or the particular prop in a scene (a bright red dress), the colors pop welcomingly at times.  The fine details hold up throughout as do the black levels.  They are always deep.  Skin tones all look natural and there are no visible signs of dirt, debris or artifacts on the print.  If things were a little sharper, this one might be reference.  The transfer and image quality sets the mood and puts you in the scene.  What more can you ask for?

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Perhaps what most impressed me about this Blu-ray package was the film’s intricately rendered surround track.  I Spit on Your Grave 2 gets the red carpet rolled out for it on the Blu-ray format with a hard working Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mix.  Perhaps hard working is a deceiving choice of words.  I don’t want you to think it’s bombastic and monstrous, but when Katie screams…you might just be reaching for your remote real fast.  Wow!  That girl has a set of lungs on her.  The LFE bass channel definitely lets you know it’s present right from the start, but what I loved most about this audio presentation was the atmospheric elements coming out of the rear channels.  From loud club music to the elements in the cityscape, this track really puts you in the middle of things.  And as I mentioned before…if you are living in an apartment or condo, you may want to keep your remote control handy for volume control or your neighbors just may be inclined to call the police.  Seriously, her voice is that shrilling.  However, let’s talk about the most important aspect of this department, the dialogue.  It’s always loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  I never once strained to hear things.  So as you can see and hear, technically speaking, this Blu-ray is sound.  You can also find English and Spanish subtitles on this disc too.

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This section is going to be short and sweet simply because it’s a pretty short list here to talk about.  So short, I’ll even refrain from using bullet points like I usually do.  There’s a second disc inside that houses the film on a DVD disc for your kid’s viewing enjoyment in the back of the minivan (I’m kidding).  And last but certainly least, the Blu-ray disc contains only one extra, a collection of deleted scenes that clocks in at a running time of 5:23.  In my opinion, the film contains enough scenes that should have been deleted, so there’s nothing here for me really.

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So if you do the math above, you’ll find out the scores average out at 3.  I really wanted to at least give that score to I Spit on Your Grave 2 in the film section, but alas after much mental wrestling with myself I just could not bring myself to do it.  It’s not as strong as its predecessor, but fans of the genre and of the previous installment should still check it out in my opinion.  Although it’s not Empire Strikes Back, it does have near reference video and audio.  So that’s always a plus.  Just don’t get yourself worked up over any extras.  Move on if that’s the deal breaker for you…although it should not be.  Does Katie need your help?  Or is she capable of taking care of herself?  Find out now by ordering this one here.

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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