I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine DVD Review
Written by Greg Fisher
DVD released by Anchor Bay
Directed by R.D. Braunstein
Written by Daniel Gilboy
2015, 91 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on October 20th, 2015
Sarah Butler as Jennifer Hills/Angela
Jennifer Landon as Marla
Doug McKeon as Oscar
Gabriel Hogan as Detective McDylan
Harley Jane Kozak as Therapist
Michelle Hurd as Detective Boyle
Watching I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine, it dawned on me that the only thing thematically different between a revenge movie and torture porn is the ability of the audience to truly sympathize with the lead. Good revenge films take pains to get the viewer invested in the crusade, while torture porn simply revels in the death. This film could not decide which path to take and suffers for it.
The film is a direct sequel to the 2010 remake of 1977's I Spit on Your Grave. Jennifer, the protagonist from the first movie, has moved to LA, changed her name, and has had trouble adjusting to life after the events of the first movie. As a result of her rape and her subsequent revenge on her rapists, she suffers from PTSD. She has violent fantasies, cannot connect with anyone around her, and is completely untrusting of any man she encounters. She finally makes friends with a woman named Marla from her support group, but this only makes matters worse. The two start stalking men singled out by other members of their group as rapists and women haters. Marla's life as a bad influence is cut short when she is murdered by her abusive ex. This causes Jennifer/Angela to spiral further, starting a one-woman war on Marla's ex and beyond.
I wanted to like this movie much more as a fan of revenge films and of strong female protagonists. There were strong points. Butler is very good in the lead role, and the viewer gets to feel the claustrophobia that Jennifer feels. She simply cannot trust anyone because, as she states it, everyone is out for themselves. We feel her frustration to the ineffectual victims that inhabit her support group, and at the cops that can't keep the bad people behind bars. The film loses us in the unevenness of the tone. When Marla and Jennifer start as vigilantes, they spout off man-hating clichés and are almost giddy as they assault the stepfather of a girl from their support group. They feel no remorse, only a high that they desperately want to keep going. After Marla's death, Jennifer acts like the hero of a bad action movie. She makes bad quips and gives off steely-eyed anger as she butchers her way through the bad guys. These scenes are alternated with scenes where she unconvincingly tries to justify her actions, but the rationalizations are so poor even she doesn't seem to buy them. I understand that it may be foolish to try to justify the actions of a woman who has clearly had a psychotic break, but it does take away from the ability of the viewer to relate to her.
The most damning thing for the movie is that the most interesting character is one that held less than ten minutes of screen time. Oscar attends the rape support group because his daughter killed herself after her rapist was freed on a technicality. His intentions, feelings, and character feel unique, and his character arc is the most satisfying, well written, and compelling of the movie.
R.D. Braunstein is not a household name as a director, and I doubt he ever will be. He worships at the altar of Tarantino and Eli Roth too fervently to have a unique voice, and instead seems more than happy to simply revel in style instead of cultivating any substance. Daniel Gilboy, as a writer, needed to streamline his narrative more and become more decisive in what he was trying to say, instead of saying a whole bunch of things and hoping some of them stick with the audience.
Video and Audio:
The video looks great even for DVD.
The movie is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and sounds just as good as the video looks.
This is an absolutely no frills DVD. The viewer gets choice of subtitles and a choice for scene selections, and that's it. Not even a trailer.