And how! 5 minutes before our scheduled ETD, my wife suddenly feels really nauseous and I am forced to make the split decision of going ahead and saving her a place in line or abandoning the show altogether. I was really hesitant to see this movie in the first place, but my natural movie-going instincts said that I must proceed. So I book down to the Hall building, 15 minutes behind time and find a spot in the line-up that's not great but not a disaster either. I knew this movie was going to be crowded.
So I'm not totally comfortable being a lone dude in the line-up at a remake of a famously brutal rape revenge exploitation movie. On top of that, the last person in the line up is a bookish looking pregnant woman! I kid you not. I was dying to know what her deal was but there was no way I was going to ask her "Are you waiting in line for I Spit on your Grave?" I actually do often check, because I've made a mistake before and ended up going to an overwrought Canadian psychological thriller with two actors in a cabin instead of the slam-bang action flick I'd wanted to see. But guess what? I should have asked her, because when we got to the doors of the theatre, it turned out that she and her boyfriend (who joined her later) were in the wrong line-up! Even worse, there movie had a start time 30 minutes ahead of ours. Now I felt like a dick. Such a tricky line to walk, the Fantasia line-up etiquette.
My wife did show up, 5 minutes before the show got underway. She had smoked the rare cigarette and it had not agreed with her, but she overcame it eventually. I am really not into cruelty and rapiness in movies, but I trust my wife's judgement and she has brought me to some really good movies (our first date rental was Ichii the Killer). It turned out that the director and the director of the original were here and that this was the world premiere, so I was pretty psyched.
I have lots to say about the movie, but not a lot of time and I don't want to give away anything. Most of you probably know the basic plot, which is lone girl is brutally humiliated and raped by a gang of locals. She then goes after them, meting out brutal revenge. I'll say this about the remake. It is damned efficient. The setting, the direction, the editing and the acting are all really top notch. When Meir Zarchi, the creator of the original and on of the remake's producers, announced the film, he said, "Strap on your seatbelts!". It wasn't quite Haute Tension, but it was close enough. It's coming out unrated (though really, it's no worse than Hostel; or was that unrated?) and I hope it does well. It's a pretty good piece of filmmaking, true to the spirit of the original with some pretty creative revenge techniques.
Though I appreciated the efficiency, what was missing for me were some practical explanations of how the heroine survives. Partly, this is a simple nerdy need for things to be explained (and that really wasn't necessary in this movie), but more I think that there was a good opportunity to enrichen her character arc and allow the audience to connect more with her. She basically just disappears after the assault and doesn't come back until she is in full revenge mode. I would have liked to have seen some scenes of her surviving, perhaps hitting an even greater low and finding some animal will that then also fuels her ability to take revenge. She spends a month in the bayou, starting out with no clothes or food. Wouldn't a scene of her eating a raw muskrat that she killed with her bare hands have been cool?
There was a Q&A afterwards and in introducing it, Mitch Davis told us there was some "bittersweet news" that somebody had passsed out. I asked some of the staff afterwards and they said it happened with about 15 minutes to go in the movie, during the most intense scenes. I couldn't tell if they were messing with me or not, but it's what I wanted to hear so I pass it on to you. Right at the start of the Q&A, some sweaty not super coherent guy near the front started ranting. It was hard to hear what he was saying and people were shouting him down. To Mitch Davis's extreme credit, he quieted the audience down (mostly) and gave the dude a chance to speak. Security came and Davis shooed them away. Very cool. From what I could gather, the sweaty dude was absolutely outraged by the remake, but a huge fan of the original. It was awesome, like an internet nerdrage in real life! Even cooler, Meir Zarchi was totally into it and kept saying how good it was that this guy could share his opinion even if they didn't agree. And then they hugged! It would have been a perfect scene, except the guy didn't know when to shut up and finally he got dragged away.
(programmer Mitch Davis, director Steven Monroe, Star Sarah Butler, producer and director of original Meir Zarchi and producer Lisa Hanson all brought to you in authentic briquesduneige BlurryVision®)
We stayed for about ten minutes more and it really was interesting, all about what it was like shooting such a film, how it got cast, how the distribution will be done and more, but I'm getting old and it probably will be recorded and put up somewhere, so we left before it was over. I'm glad I saw it and made it through. Good luck to the film. It's very cool that an old exploitation classic is being treated with such respect today.