Director Steven Monroe acknowledges that his new film “I Spit on Your Grave” is quite the polarizing project yet he believes that it resonates with audiences who understand and are affected by the film and its content.
“If you want to see a movie that raises questions, makes you wonder and makes you think about things, then I’d watch it,” Monroe says. “I don’t really care how violent or upsetting the movie is. If it’s well done and makes me think, I want to see the movie.”
In “I Spit on Your Grave,” which is now available on DVD along with the 1978 film on which it was based, Sarah Butler plays a young woman who is psychologically tormented, repeatedly raped and left for dead by a group of men before returning to exact revenge on each and every one of them.
Butler agrees with her director, adding that the movie is obviously not for everyone – especially audiences who tend to only like romantic comedies – but is definitely a must-see for horrorholics who “can handle it.” And the actress laughs off misguided naysayers who claim taking a role in the controversial flick was a bad career move.
“I appreciate their concern but it’s none of their business,” Butler explains. “I don’t care what they think. I believe I’ve made a good step and I am already seeing the results from having done this movie. It has definitely moved my career forward.”
However, that does not mean that taking on such a unique role did not require plenty of preparation. Rather, Butler says she and Monroe spoke at length in order to ensure that she was comfortable with playing both the helpless victim and the vengeful offender.
Regarding the first half of the film, during which her character is tormented and raped, Butler acknowledges that trust in both her director and her fellow actors was key to preventing any long-term damage to her psyche. Of course, the fact that filming wrapped just before Thanksgiving at which time Butler got to go home and visit her family certainly helped, as well.
As for the second half, Monroe opted to distance himself slightly from the 1978 original in which the female character uses her sexuality to get revenge on her perpetrators. Instead, the director instructed Butler to basically become a dead person.
“We just felt that, with what happened to her, she didn’t need [sexuality] any more,” says Monroe, likening the situation to one in which someone receives a surprising burst of strength allowing them to lift a car in order to save a life. “When someone does something like that to you, you’re a different person. Things come out of you and you’re able to do things you’ve never been able to tap into before in your life.”
As a result, Butler practiced getting in a “really dark space.” She spent a lot of time alone, trying to isolate herself and snap in and out of an “empty shell of a person,” which is essentially what the actress’s character is during the second half of “I Spit on Your Grave.”
However, aside from that change to the character progression and a few other minor adjustments, Monroe tried to stay as close as possible to Meir Zarchi’s source material. His philosophy is that, when tasked with directing a remake, a filmmaker must stay true to the original’s content for fans while bringing something slightly new to it for newcomers.
“I don’t believe in the whole reimagining,” Monroe says. “If you are going to remake a film, remake a film. If you’re going to reimagine and do something totally different, just write a new script and make another film.”
“I Spit on Your Grave” (U – 107 minutes) is now available on DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley.
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