Friday, December 28, 2012

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Why do I suffer the exploitation film? They are horrible. Where chain saws and gore transgress the physical boundaries of our contemporary culture, watching rape shatters the mental boundaries of human imagination. I Spit On Your Grave seeks to show the totality of masculine brutality against women.

The color red is a pervasive hue in the film that works at multiple levels to address the problem of violence against women. Red is the reason, the warning signal, the stage of, and the after glow of the violence. The multitude of meaning in this single signifier presents the argument that misogyny is ubiquitous in our society. Jen's solution of murder implies stopping misogyny requires revenge that is equally beyond societal boundaries.

The color manifests as lipstick, a red dress, nail polish, and the apple that Jen gives Matthew. These reds are seductive, they seem to support Johnny's pathetic excuse that Jen "asked for it" through provocative actions.

The red of the gas station stands, the summer cabin's decorations, lampshade, curtains, kitchen wall, and the interior of her river canoe are a foreshadowing of the kidnapping and rape.

The final brutal onslaught in her cabin, marked by the terrifying scare of the boot kicking the phone from her hand, is saturate with red. The crimson carpet, the red armchair, her bloodied frame all painting the image of carnage against women.

Finally, three of the four murders involve blood diffusing into water. Cloudy red water of the attackers is the chromatic reversal of Jen's experience. She escapes on her motorboat leaving evidence of the violence to seep into the river and disperse until it disappears to hide her deeds. Red, at the end of the film, becomes evidence of successful revenge and victory of the men.

The visual presence of red works to eroticize the protagonist, to warn her of the attack but also becomes an element of the violence and a marker of her revenge; these contrasting instances complicate our understanding of its use. By being associated with the entire plot of the film, red gains universal presence. Instead of symbolizing a single emotion, it represents the entire societal culture of violence against women. With this reading, red becomes the backdrop of the events, a stage that permits the cycle of misogyny to continue as a whole even if Jen killed her specific attackers.

This film.

It's crude. It's amateur. It ends with the creation of a female killer who's origins are fundamentally different from the mindless masculine evil of Mike Myers and Leatherface. The woman has reasons, her evil only emerges from revenge, it was never intrinsic.

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