I wasn't surprised that this was going to be remade. Some people wasn't fans of the original, including the late great Roger Ebert. Considering that it's an exploitation film, that's an understatement. But the thing about the original is that it had a gritty realism to it. What I like about was how it had no soundtrack or suspenseful music just to set the tone. And once horrible things start happening, it is as if you're watching a snuff film. Seeing the excruciating rape scene from almost a 30 minute running time is brutal and disturbing and it's kind of psychological how we see the main character's torment, anger and vengeance. Though by the end I didn't get how she would seduce the men and kill them one by one but since they're dimwitted, unsympathetic hillbillies, I'll let it pass. I don't know if I could call this movie a cult classic. Or even calling a feminist film is a bit of stretch. However, it is an interesting film study on the subject of rape and how it affects a person.
So then I wonder what would be different with this remake? Well, there's one thing. Instead of Jennifer seducing the men, why not take the torture porn route? Yes, this movie is, in fact, a torture porn. How. Fucking. Dated. It doesn't ruin the movie but it is far from realistic and it ends up being mediocre. As much as I want to point out the flaws in this remake, it is a vast improvement over the original. But still doesn't leave much of an impression.
The Story: Jennifer Hills, a young woman from the city, decides to go off to the country to work on her novel. But a bunch of out of control, deranged yokels try to break off her summer bliss. Terrorizing her, Raping her, and eventually killing her. But unbeknownst to them, Jennifer survived her ordeal and she's back for blood....
The acting was significantly better than the original. I thought some of the male actors brought in certain menace into their roles but also express a sense of weakness to show pathetic these characters are. I wish the filmmakers would have a psychological method to their madness. A little character development would hurt. Even Jennifer Hills herself doesn't get any character development. Not major development but things that make the characters more human. Maybe that's one of the flaws of this remake.
Sarah Butler as Jennifer was...alright. She's not the best actress but she does an okay performance. It's just when the script give her these really bad one liners, it felt forced.
As for the character of Jennifer, we never really get to know her. There really wasn't much development on Jennifer in the original but the remake could've taken advantage of that. Like at least of how Jennifer was intelligent enough to set up those traps for her captives. Before the events of the movie, you just sort of see her lounging around, smoking pot, and procrastinating over her novel.
Sure, she is sympathetic once the traumatic ordeal happens but we never really get KNOW her and that's what's missing.
Now let's focus on the villains of this piece:
First we have gas station attendant Johnny, who's something of a Casanova wannabe but is ultimately not successful with the ladies. It's implied that a woman from the past bruised his ego, which is why he has such contempt/fascination with beautiful women. When I first known about Jeff Branson, I seriously didn't know he was daytime soap actor, so I saw really convincing his performance was.
Matthew is the weakest and far more vulnerable than the other men, being constantly bullied by them and is under their toxic influence. We never really know why Matthew is friends with these people but it would make sense to have one of the guys be a family member of some sorts. He is the one that is truly affected by what happened, usually seeing visions of a supposedly dead Jennifer. I thought it was quite effective of what he did really destroyed his state of mind. Chad Lindberg put in a pretty good performance once you do feel sympathy for Matthew, it turns on your head once he is just as brutal as his barbaric friends, choking Jennifer while raping her. And then you see why Jennifer gets him first.
Stanley is the fat slob of the group, who has a habit of committing voyeurism. That's his character in a nutshell, he is a camera fiend. Being the bumbling idiot that he is, he videotapes the whole incident which gets the men in a tight pickle. It's quite jarring to see Daniel Franzese, who was best known for Mean Girls, to see him in a gritty role like this but I wouldn't mind seeing what other versatile roles he would take in the future.
Then there's Andy, the more playful and most immature of the group. He's played by the very handsome Rodney Eastman, who I adored in Nightmare 3 and 4 but is quite unsympathetic in this movie, which for his benefit worked.
Finally, we have a new character in the mix. You remember when the ad for the 1978 film said Jennifer killed FIVE men when the actual film there was only four? Well, the remake at least corrected that mistake. The fifth guy in question is a sheriff but, then again, they should've made him a tad bit younger and wrote him in as the deputy. Anywho, if he was the town sheriff, this must be the smallest police station there is because there should be other policemen around. Beside the point, the sheriff is a family man with a pregnant wife and daughter, as it shown him talking to his daughter while the other men frequently terrorize Jennifer. it's like the movie is making it obvious for us. They never really explore why he does the things he do, even resorting to murdering one of his friends just to keep his dark secret. We never really see him mistreat his wife or kid in anyway. He's the perfect husband and father.
But then the movie never really tells us why one day he would decide to just rape and kill someone. It's a really big plot hole.
The actor did a good enough job but I wish they cast somebody more menacing, more intimidating. I just wasn't all the way impressed.
I would think the directing is okay. I do like how the movie sets in the mood, having this dreary, depressing feel with most of the shots with washed with gray. I know that's pretty generic in certain horror films though it does fit in right with the movie's tone. Though there were times where I felt like I was watching an hour long trailer.
The deaths in this movie are WAY more gory and brutal than the original, I'll give it that. Jennifer really put the ringer through these guys. She is a woman you don't want to mess with and even though I'm not a big torture porn fan, I did like the traps Jennifer set up for her victims. There is one objectification though, and that's Stanley's death with the cartoonish CGI crows. Again people, CGI is NOT effective or scary in away, shape or form in a horror movie. The script is a little 'meh.' Like I said it need more a psychological impact and more character development to make the characters seem real in some way.
Overall, I thought this was a good enough remake compared to the original but it's still not memorable and it's just a mediocre revenge film.
The Verdict? Both movies seem to stand on solid ground. They're not perfect movies, not great by any means but the 70's version could be looked at as a film study and the remake could looked at as a standard revenge horror film.
My Last Word: It could be worth a watch, but still nothing to be remembered by.