Following its world premiere appearance at this year’s Film4 FrightFest, Steven R. Monroe’s I Spit on Your Grave 2 comes to DVD and Blu-ray this week. This blood-spattered sequel to the 2010 remake stars British actress Jemma Dallender as Katie, an ambitious young model whose dream is to make it big in New York City. Sadly, Katie finds herself held back by a dated portfolio. Short on cash and desperate to update her image, she spots a poster offering a free photoshoot. Being a naive, small-town girl, she has no concept of exploitation or ‘stranger-danger’, and enthusiastically throws herself into her first modelling session.
Things quickly turn sour when photographer Ivan (Joe Absolom) asks Katie to take off her clothes. She promptly declines and leaves the Eastern European photographer and his brothers high and dry – but not for long. Katie wakes to find that Georgy (Yavor Baharov), one of the brothers, has broken into her apartment. After a brief scuffle, Katie becomes the victim of a horrific and brutal attack that leaves her bruised, battered and fighting for consciousness. Upon waking for a second time, she finds herself bound and subjected to more acts violent sexual abuse. Managing to escape, her survival triggers Katie’s appetite for revenge as she goes on to unleash a familiar brand of brutal vengeance on her captors.
Dallender, in her first major role, leads the cast with a decent, if agonising, performance. It’s impossible not to feel for her character as she is dragged naked and exposed through such gratuitously exploitative scenes. Her vulnerability as small town girl in the city, makes it all the more harder to watch. Much like the original, this is not entertainment – it’s rape and torture-porn at its most extreme. The protagonist is bound and gagged amidst filth and faeces and subjected to countless sexual and physical attacks. The only weapons used are restraints and the force of her male counterparts, the realism of which is thoroughly repugnant.
However, when it comes to our heroine reaping her revenge, the film takes a nose dive into Tom and Jerry territory, opting for violence so beyond extreme it becomes cartoonish. In essence, I Spit on Your Grave 2 is what happens to your brain if you fall asleep during Hostel: Part 2 (2007). It’s rather concerning that there’s a market for films that exploit its female characters with such odious disrespect. Horror has come a long way since the 1978 original and although Monroe attempts to balance out the nudity by clamping some testicles in a vice, it only highlights the film’s disproportionate and redundant understanding of the progression of gender politics.