I Spit on Your Grave (Blu-ray Review)

The remake is always a touchy thing. You’ve got that range of audience dedicated to the original, not willing to budge toward an open mind on a newly crafted version of the film. Then you’ve got the unwitting generation who know nothing of the film’s storied past and are apprehensive to check out something they know so little about that’s labeled a redo. Could this be the case with the 2011 Blu-ray release of I Spit on Your Grave, directed by Steven R. Monroe?  How confident were the backers of this film?  So much so that the director of the original 1978 version, Meir Zarchi, threw his hat in the ring and got involved.


Visceral.  It is a word that was used by a critic to describe the remake of I Spit on Your Grave.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as “dealing with crude or elemental emotions.”  There is not a more accurate word in the English language to try and relate the power of this film’s content to those that have yet to see it.  Sarah Butler stars as Jennifer Hills; a young, aspiring writer who has rented a beautiful cabin in the backwoods of Louisiana.  She seeks the serenity of nature as she prepares to work on her next book.  Before she reaches her destination of intended relaxation, she meets a few of the local guys from town during her stop at a gas station.  What she sees as a playful interaction, they see as an opportunity to unleash their pent up manhood on. 

Director Steven R. Monroe does a magnificent job of building up the tension while successfully derailing viewers with a couple occasions of false foreshadowing.  Maybe they weren’t even intended, but there were moments when you think, “Okay, something’s going down there,” only to have that not happen, but don’t worry.  There is plenty of plot to keep your heart pounding while this film buries its talons with an absolute death grip in your attention.  Just when you think no more dignity can be forcibly removed from Butler’s character, the film hits you with another gash of unrelenting graphic behavior.  The place that actress Sarah Butler mentally and emotionally went to is one foreign to most.  She put herself in a woman’s most terrifying situation, and relayed it in disturbing accuracy to the screen. 

At 108 minutes, the film has a slow yet functional build-up early on.  Once the local yokels pay Ms. Hills a visit, prepare to watch the worst in human behavior make itself visible, front and center.  However, when people experience life at its worst, they often come back stronger, even returning the ‘favor’ in dramatic fashion.  Not only does the petite Jennifer Hills exact revenge on her offenders, she does so in a very painful and creative fashion.  The death scenes in this movie are so eye-opening, that I found myself pausing the movie to fully grasp what just happened. 

Now, I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to this kind of thing.  I can watch open-heart surgeries and even autopsies, but anything with the face is just utterly disturbing to me.  I saw a facelift on TV once…couldn’t handle it.  I’m not going to give anything away, but obviously I’m leading up to something here.  There is one death scene that is so unbelievably repulsive to watch, at least for me, that I just sat there on my bed in disbelief, hand over my mouth like a little girl.  If you asked me when the last time I was stunned watching a movie, I honestly don’t think I could answer it.  That is, until watching this movie when a certain wayward soul found himself in a most undesirable situation. 

The acting delivered here is quite convincing across the board.  From Jennifer Hills to the local sheriff to the physically-challenged Matthew and all the bad guys in between, you really grow to either feel for or absolutely hate these individuals.  Honestly, it was refreshing to watch one of the behind-the-scenes extras to see these people had a normal side to their lives.  It’s a rarity for me to get so emotionally wrapped up, to this degree, in a film’s characters. 

My only complaint, and this is a small one, is that Butler’s acting in some of her revenge scenes seemed ever so slightly inconsistent.  One minute she’s acting out in all the anguish she’s experienced, displaying an almost primal behavior.  Interspersed is an occasional crafty or clever one-liner she’ll share with her latest victim.  Who am I to say that wouldn’t happen?  However, when someone is at their lowest, darkest point, a quick wit is the last thing you’d expect to come out.


I Spit on Your Grave spits out a beautiful image on your screen in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and AVC encode.  In addition, it makes impressive use of 1080p and draws forth fine details in a variety of aspects such as the actors’ skin, fabric surfaces and the great outdoors.  I was extremely hard-pressed to find grain on the screen in this movie.  For a lower budget film, this was non-existent as far as I could see.  Heck, for any budget film, the absence of grain is a great accomplishment.  One minor drawback was the inconsistency in colors such as skin tones and background colors.  There were just times when things seemed a little washed.  Bad lighting?  I’m not sure, but some of the images were deeper in color than others. 


Dialogue and sound effects exit the speakers with detailed clarity, though I would have liked more use of those back speakers.  There are several creepy moments in the movie’s earlier moments that could have benefited from more dominant rear channels.  A crash, clang or bang from a loose door or unstable wall hanging could have created that extra layer of fright.  It’s all brought to you in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and while it certainly gets the job done, I just didn’t get that “it’s going on all around me” feeling. 

Special Features

Oh my gosh!  Deleted scenes in high def?!  Could it be?  Indeed it is.  There aren’t very many extras here, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the footage from the cutting room floor show up in 1080.  Now the back of the film’s case says one of the special features is an audio commentary with director Steven R. Monroe and producer Lisa Hansen.  I looked high and low on the disc and could not find this anywhere.  It was not under the special features section.  It didn’t have its own section.  Maybe because I’ve got an advance copy of the film, it didn’t make it to this version.  Director commentary is always welcomed and was sorely missed here.  On the bright side, it does come with a digital copy.

  • The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon – Running in standard definition, this featurette captures the thoughts and experiences from writer/director/producer Meir Zarchi, director Steven R. Monroe, and the actors including Jeff Branson and Sarah Butler (16:25).
  • Deleted Scenes – Hey!  They’re in high def! (11:43)
  • Trailers – Three trailers are included here with the first two (teaser and theatrical #1) appearing in high def.  The third trailer, or theatrical #2 as it’s referred to, is shown in standard definition.  They run at 1:00, 1:23 and 1:42 respectively.
  • Radio Spot – Catch the radio trailer (:42).


Final Thoughts  

Ever since I first learned of this film, I was drawn to it, even before I knew much about it or the fact that it was a remake.  After checking out Brian White’s press release here on WSB, I was even more intrigued.  However, none of that curiousity prepared me for this film.  I was blown away.  It was positively riveting and negatively jaw-dropping.  I will give this thriller many more viewings and recommendations in the near future.  Steven R. Monroe must have gotten everything he could have imagined and more out of his cast and writers, because I certainly did as a viewer.  I was floored.  Astounded.  Bewildered.  Dumbfounded.  I was all of these things during the almost 2 hours of I Spit on Your Grave.  This movie is infested with tension to the end.




10 Responses to “I Spit on Your Grave (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Mike

    I watched this one last night. I really enjoyed it, and the review is spot on, Gregg. The only thing I might add is that I enjoyed the interspersed ‘one-liners’. I think it all depends on the individual in the situation.

    Though I’ve never been to a ‘primal’ place and really can’t relate, I’m the type that loves pointing out the irony when situations get reversed, and I’m inherently a smart ass. That was part of her ‘mental’ revenge, and for me, that worked.

  2. Brian White

    Spot on Gregg! Good job! I agree with EVERYTHING you have to say here 🙂

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Wow, very strong scores all the way around! I’ve got the original coming my way. We’ll see how they stack up.

  4. Sandy

    not sure if I can handle this one… I’ll probably watch with one hand covering my eyes, peeking out between my fingers. seriously

  5. Gregg

    Thanks, everybody. This movie was so profound. I can’t get it off my mind. I’m sitting at my desk today staring into oblivion thinking about the ending and what happens next.

  6. Sean Ferguson

    Nice job Gregg! I’m not sure if I want to see this but I know Jami will.

  7. Brian White

    Gregg’s review should be in a MUST SEE category!

  8. Deb McFadden

    Looks wicked but I don’t know if I can watch it.

  9. Gerard Iribe

    I just finished this a few minutes ago. I’ll be skipping dinner since I almost lost my lunch. I know what scene Gregg is talking about, but there’s another scene that got me worst. I would also suggest that people watch the original.

    The remake changed things around a bit, in addition to keeping other things the same.

    I actually surprised that this film was released in theaters in its UNRATED cut. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that.

  10. Brian White

    We just watched this film again today. Hands down…if I could have caught this flick in the theaters last year, this would have easily been high on my Top 10 films of the year 🙁