I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU — Like Mother, Like Daughter

It’s been 40 years since Meir Zarchi unleashed the notorious rape/revenge film I Spit on Your Grave (aka Day of the Woman) on unsuspecting audiences. Now he’s back, writing and directing a sequel to a film that even today most would argue still stands as one of the most transgressive narratives ever committed to celluloid. I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu is the first official sequel to the original (sorry, Savage Vengeance), with Camille Keaton reprising her role as the infamous Jennifer Hills. The sequel that has been in the works for almost half a decade is finally seeing the light on day on DVD/Blu-ray, and it’s an ambitious sequel that feels like an unsettling mix of the surreal vibe of the original with the gritty violence of newer franchise films.

ISOYGDV picks up as you would expect four decades later with Jennifer Hills having just released her best seller I Spit on Your Graves, chronicling the infamous murders for which she was both tried and acquitted. After an afternoon brunch, both Jennifer and her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette) are kidnapped by the kinfolk of the men who raped her in the previous film. Led by Becky (Maria Olsen), Johnny’s (Eron Tabor) wife, the group of revenge crazed, religious fanatics believe the men were innocent were simply seduced and killed by Jennifer. They take the women back to small town where it all began, and as the title implies, Christy is brutally raped and then sets out for vengeance. While this is still a film firmly in the rape/revenge sub-genre, unlike its predecessors it’s much heavier on the revenge aspect this time around, thankfully, and much lighter on the rape.

Uncompromising and unfiltered, I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu weighs in at a hefty 148 minutes. The film was a family affair independently produced, written, and directed by Meir and edited by his son, who played a small part in the original. The film’s dialog-heavy first act feels a bit rough around the edges, as Zarchi uses his characters in an attempted meta-deconstruction of the original while also delving into its themes and Jennifer’s motivations. At times it felt a bit forced and exposition-y, but once we get past that and into the meat of the kidnapping plot, the dread begins to build and Zarchi feels firmly in his element ramping up an unflinching momentum. The film is also punctuated by these almost Texas Chainsaw-esque interludes as we encounter the other residents of the small backwoods town who all seem to have it out for the Hills women. It’s something that I thought almost added a surreal element to the story, adding to the paranoia and dread.

If you hated the original I Spit on Your Grave, you should probably sit this one out. It’s odd that Zarchi would wait so long to return to the series, but this entry feels oddly authentic in its sleazy story and how the mantle is passed from Jennifer, who is surprisingly still badass in this, to her daughter Christy. Jamie Bernadette’s performance here is one that could only be described as fearless. Her take, like the rest of the cast here, slowly devolves throughout the film into almost complete and utter madness by the third act, which is in stark contrast to some of the more uneven performances early on in the film. Zarchi delivers a brutal gut-wrenching sequel that is bound to be divisive among fans, but genuinely feels like the only way to continue this story while being true to original.

Previous post NEMESIS 2–4: An Albert Pyun Sequel Trilogy Hits Blu-ray
Next post MALIBU EXPRESS & HARD TICKET TO HAWAII: An Andy Sidaris Double Bill in High Definition