Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Camille Keaton as Jennifer Hill

Oh hump day, how I've missed you...Hello my darling little Womanizers, BJ-C is back with her latest edition of our 2nd weekly feature; Woman of the Week. I thought a lot about who I should feature for the big comeback, and I'll tell wasn't easy to think of one. Do I go character? Do I go super actress? Do I go for some obscure person that you've never heard of but shows off my horror chops as a total badass 19 year old woman? I figured I should go with what every writer is taught-and write what I know. As you may or may not have read, Day of the Woman aka I Spit On Your Grave is being remade. In order to properly acknowledge the absolute incredibleness of the film (other than naming a super popular and award winning blog after it ;) ) I have decided that it would only be right to make this week's WotW about Camille Keaton (yes, related to Buster) for her portrayal as Jennifer Hill.

Camille Keaton may not have a laundry list of Oscar winning performances to her resume, but she has graced us with a performance that has truly made her an icon (not to mention the banner of this here blog). Camille took on the role of Jennifer which is in my honest opinion, one of the most difficult characters for a young actress to take on. If you put it down on paper, she has to be sexy, down to earth, relatable, endearing, vindictive, violent, and strong enough to endure a rape for 26 minutes of a film while looking completely hopeless and vulnerable. Camille has the ability to do all of these things with incredible passion and believability.

The scenes that I feel truly showcase her acting chops and unnoticed talent are the scenes that show the aftermath of the 26 minute gang rape session. My heart breaks every single time I see the bruised, bloodied, distraught, and dirty frame of Jennifer Hill stumbles around the woods just looking for a way home. It's absolutely gut wrenching to see her face realize exactly what has just happened to her. The painful expressions Camille brings to the table as Jennifer Hill look so natural you believe this actress has actually endured rape.
Even though it can be argued that she becomes even more of a monster than the people who victimized her, we can't help but feel sympathy for her, as well as vindication. This photo above shows in my opinion the moment she realizes exactly what she must do in order to get revenge on the horrible people that completely destroyed her. For nearly 1/6 of the film, we witness this poor woman be completely broken down, and then she has the ability to become a vindictive, killing machine. It's hard enough for someone to play a tortured soul, but to be able to change emotions 180 degrees on the drop of a dime is incredibly impressive and she deserves proper recognition for it. I love this film for not only what it stands for, but for the breathtaking performance of Camille Keaton as Jennifer Hill.

7 comment(s):

B-Sol said...

I'm not sure whatever became of her, but I'm baffled that she really didn't have much of a career besides this movie.

deadlydolls said...

Excellent points for a truly underrated performance. You really do have to be on board with Jennifer, yet still see some of the flirty glam that makes the lead rapist justify his own crime.

I don't believe I've ever seen any of her other films. Anything that you know of come close to this?

Reel Horrorshows said...

i finally got around to watching this movie last night (i know i know, for shame that it took me this long after reading this blog so religiously for the past few months). when i got to the rape scene, even though i knew it was coming and how many ways can you make rape even more horrible than it already is, but my god they did it.
Camille's performance is really incredible.

B-Movie Becky said...

Sometimes it's difficult for actors to succeed after starring in very particular, controversial roles. Not because they have a stigma around them, but it's hard for people to see them as something else. Linda Blair and Janet Leigh had that problem, but it's weird because Keaton isn't as familiar to mainstream audiences. Who knows?

forestofthedead said...

Well the mainstream film industry ain't exactly experts on talented actors/actresses.

That said she could have had a continuing presence in lesser known horror maybe she chose to give up acting.

Erich Kuersten said...

I waited forever to see this film too, being afraid of how easily I'm traumatized (was upset for weeks after the TRAILER for the Girl next door), but I find the consensus damnation of Ebert etc. severely misguided. This is a very sensitive and artistic film about violence and moral ambiguity - the ability to "tune out" to another person's suffering either through revenge or male group dynamics (as per C Clover). "I let him inseminate me before I killed him!" says it all - she's like a heroine in a Hawks film, just slashing her way into the boy's club, better than the boys ever could, Kali/Phoenix from the flmaes!

deadlydolls said...

I think the intensity of Ebert's, as well as other critics' hatred for the filmstronger due to nature of seeing the film with a rowdy audience. If I watched it in a room of men cheering the rapists on, I'd probably be pretty horrified as well and may have found it hard to separate that experience from the actual point of the film in front of me.

I always come back to comparing this film with Straw Dogs, which is far more respected by the general cinephile public but to me, much more offensive in its depiction of rape. And yet I bet watching that film in a theater, the rape would be forgotten by all because you'd be cheering on Dustin Hoffman in the last 30 minutes.

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