A vile bag of garbage named "I Spit on Your Grave" is
playing in Chicago theaters this week. It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and
contemptible that I can hardly believe it's playing in respectable theaters,
such as Plitt's United Artists. But it is. Attending it was one of the most
depressing experiences of, my life.
is a film without a shred of artistic distinction. It lacks even simple
craftsmanship. There is no possible motive for exhibiting it, other than the
totally cynical hope that it might make money. Perhaps it will make money: When
I saw it at 11:20 a.m. on Monday, the theater contained a larger crowd than
was not just a large crowd, it was a profoundly disturbing one. I do not often
attribute motives to audience members, nor do I try to read their minds, but
the people who were sitting around me on Monday morning made it easy for me to
know what they were thinking. They talked out loud. And if they seriously believed
the things they were saying, they were vicarious sex criminals.
story of ''I Spit on Your Grave" is told with moronic simplicity. A girl
goes for a vacation in the woods. She sunbathes by a river. Two men speed by in
a powerboat. They harass her. Later, they tow her boat to a rendezvous with two
of their buddies. They strip the girl, beat her and rape her. She escapes into
the woods. They find her, beat her, and rape her again. She crawls home. They
are already there, beat her some more, and rape her again.
weeks later, somewhat recovered the girl lures one of the men out to her house,
pretends to seduce him, and hangs him. She lures out another man and castrates
him, leaving him to bleed to death in a bathtub. She kills the third man with
an axe and disembowels the fourth with an outboard engine. End of movie.
horrible events are shown with an absolute minimum of dialogue, which is so
poorly recorded that it often cannot be heard. There is no attempt to develop
the personalities of the characters - they are, simply, a girl and four men,
one of them mentally retarded. The movie is nothing more or less than a series
of attacks on the girl and then her attacks on the men, interrupted only by an
unbelievably grotesque and inappropriate scene in which she enters a church and
asks forgiveness for the murders she plans to commit.
did the audience react to all of this? Those who were vocal seemed to be eating
it up. The middle-aged, white-haired man two seats down from me, for example,
talked aloud, After the first rape: "That was a good one!" After the
second: "That'll show her!" After the third: "I've seen some
good ones, but this is the best." When the tables turned and the woman
started her killing spree, a woman in the back row shouted: "Cut him up,
sister!" In several scenes, the other three men tried to force the
retarded man to attack the girl. This inspired a lot of laughter and
encouragement from the audience.
wanted to turn to the man next to me and tell him his remarks were disgusting,
but I did not. To hold his opinions at his age, he must already have suffered a
fundamental loss of decent human feelings. I would have liked to talk with the
woman in the back row, the one with the feminist solidarity for the movie's
heroine. I wanted to ask If she'd been appalled by the movie's hour of rape
scenes. As it was, at the film's end I walked out of the theater quickly,
feeling unclean, ashamed and depressed.
movie is an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures,
Because it is made artlessly, It flaunts its motives: There is no reason to see
this movie except to be entertained by the sight of sadism and suffering. As a
critic, I have never condemned the use of violence in films if I felt the
filmmakers had an artistic reason for employing it. "I Spit on Your
Grave" does not. It is a geek show. I wonder if its exhibitors saw it
before they decided to play it, and if they felt as unclean afterward as I did.