It is my birthday and I am drinking and writing about rape-revenge movies on the Internet.
I can say that I have never liked any rape-revenge movie (*I don't consider LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT a rape-revenge film and, yes, I love it), but I have never understood why until I saw this film.
Rape-revenge is a close cousin, an atrophied limb, of slasher movies. With the same slasher weaknesses. No characters. Formulaic.
The woman in this remake, like the original, is a writer who sometimes drinks wine AND THAT IS ALL WE KNOW. Her assailants are interchangeable redneck rapists AND THAT IS ALL WE KNOW. One of them is retarded, one is the Sheriff of Rapingham, but otherwise there is zero character development.
These movies are factory-issued with cues and blueprints corresponding to a path long found. Woman raped, then splatter. The fishhooks and lye were promising gore touches, but the other touches were barely capitalized upon. I imagined, while watching this, that I was writing the screenplay and making the main male assailant a real character, just rebounding from a wretched breakup, or that the rape was the result of drug-escalated male frenzy, or that the female lead went overboard and sacrificed the innocent relatives of her assaulters.
But that would fall outside the proscribed limits. This is not a genre, so much as a rite. The roles are set. It is the film's responsibility to color inside the lines. And this is shot well and so what. And the lead actress gives a gutsy, powerful performance, but (FUCK!) look at what this is. Like the professional-but-cadaverous AND SOON THE DARKNESS, it seems so pointless. It's a riff on HOSTEL, on any number of "rural folk and their rapery" exercises.
These are like fetish films. You don't expect to know why the lady in the bondage movie yearns to strap on the last set of restraints and you don't know how the lady in this movie survives post-rape in the wilderness with a Cher-esque array of changed costumes, but who cares? The situation matters, not the details. Would you watch a sequel with her returning to "civilization" and picking up her life? Why not?
The whole thing adds to the sadness of my day, rather than distracting, as I'd wish. It doesn't make me feel bad in an edifying way, like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or INSIDE, just numb and doubtful that what we're doing with our lives isn't that different from Adam Sandler crap. All planned out and professionally executed sans spirit. Rape scenes directed by guys who look like assistant managers at Wendy's, all ties and short sleeves.
Boring. I want to turn away from an obviously grotesque, weak world, instead of being immersed in it. The people who need this will find it. Everyone else can move on to HOUSE OF THE DEVIL or LET ME IN or any number of alternate queens of horrordom. I hated the original. I hate this. Hate me if you wish. It's still a free country.