Rape

Gossip (2000)

 

Just a short review today because I have been super busy moving house (and I’ve got a cold).

 

gossip

Whilst not technically a traditional horror film, Gossip has nevertheless earned its place on this blog for not only the subject matter (rape) but because of the worrying fact that it could happen in real life. Gossip tells the story of how a rumour can quickly gain a life of its own and the disastrous consequences it could have.

Three college students, Derrick, Cathy and Travis played by James Marsden (X-Men), Lena Heady (Cersei  Lannister in Game of Thrones) and Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) respectively decide to make up and trace the track of a rumour for their final psychology project.  When Derrick oversees Beau (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) pressurising his girlfriend Naomi (Kate Hudson, The Skeleton Key) into having sex at a party before Naomi passes out and Beau leaves her to sleep it off, the three have the perfect situation to test their theory about gossip. Before long the rumour takes a dark turn and mutates into Beau raping Naomi which he (obviously) denies. The film soon spirals down a dark path with both Beau’s and Naomi’s lives ruined by the rumour as he gets arrested and she has a nervous breakdown. However more interesting than the unfortunate plight of the two lovers is the effect that this rumour has on the trio that began it all of who react in very different ways revealing their true character.

The film has a very interesting and stylistic aesthetic, based in New York everything is dark with no soft corners. What I find most telling is the couch in Derrick’s loft which he shares with Cathy and Travis. The couch is painted (presumably by Travis who has the tortured artist thing down to a tee) with a portrait of the three friends but only Derrick has a mouth, the other two just have blurred regions and it was ultimately Derrick’s idea and it is by his lead that the three let the rumour continue to the dramatic end.

Don’t watch Gossip if you are looking for out-and-out scare fest or gore but if you are in the mood for a thought provoking and slick film then Gossip is right for you.

Rating: 4/5

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I Spit on your Grave aka Day of the Woman (1978)

i spit on your grave

I Spit On Your Grave opens with the arrival of a young New Yorker, Jennifer played by Camille Keaton (Tragic Ceremony) and coincidently the writer and director, Meir Zarchi’s wife and Buster Keaton’s granddaughter, in a small Connecticut town. Jennifer has moved from the Big Apple in order to write her first novel but instead meets a very grizzly fate at the hands of four local men. At the start, whilst it seems like an idyllic summer retreat for Jennifer, the viewer is treated to a slightly less picturesque insight into the local community including the slow grocery delivery man Matthew (Richard Pace) and two unemployed layabouts Stanley (Anthony Nichols) and Andy (Gunter Kleemann). Indeed, our introduction to Stanley and Andy hints at their unsavoury nature with them throwing around a knife at the local gas station whilst leering at the newly arrived woman.

After a few days of relative peace, Jennifer is surprised in her canoe by Stanley and Andy in their motorboat and then follows one of the longest (25 minutes) rape scenes in cinematic history in which the two men along with Matthew and Johnny (Eron Tabor), the gas station attendant.  Understandably this is an incredibly harrowing and upsetting to watch scene which culminates in her being left for dead, only alive on the mercy of Matthew who could not stomach killing her. The reason that the rape scene is so long is that there are periods where it seems like Jennifer is safe, having escaped her tormentors only to be caught and repeatedly violated. Life continues as normal for the four men with them complaining that ‘life is too boring now,’ until Jennifer, now unhinged after the attack stalks them and exacts her revenge in an equally graphic and brutal manner.

Unlike many films (think Psycho with its stabbing violins) there is a distinct lack of soundtrack lending a gritty and realistic quality to the film, making Keaton’s heart-wrenching screams more traumatic. Whilst some of the dialogue is stilted and Jennifer’s novel writing (she would use a lot of paper the way she writes!) is both unbelievable and a poor novel, the acting itself is (generally) good, especially considering the horrific nature of the film.

As with Cannibal Holocaust, this film is not one to watch lightly, however unlike Cannibal Holocaust, there seems to be very little plot and little reason for the traumatic violence beyond shocking the audience, although director Meir Zarchi’s preferred title, Day of the Woman, hints at women’s rights and struggles, I fail to see much evidence of this in the film. I Spit on your Grave has previously been named as one of the worst films ever made, although despite this a remake was produced in 2010, however after watching the original I am not keen to see the later version, nor could I recommend watching this film, except maybe as an earlier example of the ‘torture-porn’ or ‘gorno’ genre.

Fun Fact: All the actors performed their own stunts as the production couldn’t afford any stuntpeople.