'I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu' (2019) A Spit-Tacular Movie Review
My Thoughts on the Original
Meir Zarchi’s 1978 rape-revenge classic, I Spit on Your Grave (aka Day of the Woman), is a film that I have liked and respected for many years now. I don’t believe it to be necessarily a perfect film, there are flaws and personal gripes that I have with the end product, but overall I do dig the flick. Camille Keaton’s performance is equally sympathetic and hypnotic as her character is pushed beyond her limits. Eron Tabor as Johnny is one of exploitation’s best antagonists with his performance being impossible to pull sights away from. Visually speaking, the filmmaking is expertly crafted with gritty realism. Then when it comes to cinema’s most notorious rape scene, as uncomfortably long as it is, that is the point of it. Basically to catapult the audience into this horrific situation with no escape, much like how the victim would feel; trapped in what feels like an everlasting hell that has no end unless their captor deems otherwise. It’s nightmarish, cruel, and a disturbing sequence that I give much credit to the filmmakers for not holding back on.
The 2010 Remake
Wasn’t a fan of 2010’s I Spit on Your Grave. Not much to say about the matter. It’s been nearly ten years since I’ve even seen the remake, but I remember thinking that it was an uninspired remake moreso trying to appease the Saw fanbase rather than horror and exploitation fans as a whole. Then I never bothered with checking out the sequels to the remake. Why bother with a franchise that probably isn’t going to work for me anyways, right?
2019’s Déjà Vu
Over forty years of waiting, Meir Zarchi finally revisits I Spit on Your Grave with an official sequel, Déjà Vu. And no, Savage Vengeance does not count as an official sequel to the ’78 original. Not only is this any old, average, run of the mill sequel though as this movie brings back the original’s leading lady, Camille Keaton as Jennifer Hills. Plus the runtime hits full on ‘epic’ status with nearly two and a half hours. Was it worth the wait? Does it warrant the extensive runtime? Is this the exploitation sequel to end all exploitation sequels? Will this go down in history as another bench mark in exploitation filmmaking? Does Déjà Vu reach the heights left by its predecessor and affect the modern moviegoers in the same way that happened all those decades ago?
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) and her grown daughter, Christy (Jamie Bernadette) find themselves in a terrifying predicament when the grieving family of Jennifer’s rapists/victims have set their sights on them to exact their revenge.
The Answer is Simple
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Alright, I’m Joking… Sorta.
I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu is an admirable attempt, in parts, overall though is a pile of annoyance. First of all, the movie is far too long. There is no reason, whatsoever, why this movie is any longer than 80 minutes. Let alone two and a half hours. That is insane. Granted, I would have been able to forgive the length if there was any sort of material that accomplished a shred of entertainment value. There wasn’t. Instead it was about 150 minutes worth of rednecks profusely yelling “b*tch” and being over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top. Every scene lasts for an eternity, not in the good way that I described elements of the original, more in a vein that made me want to shut off my television. Almost every minute of screen time was filled to the brim with obnoxious performances and dialog that drained the life out of me.
Positives Before Negatives
On a slightly more positive note, I will say that from a technical standpoint, Déjà Vu is visually appealing. In regards to cinematography, lighting, and most of the effects work; this did at least look like a production straight out of the 1970s. Unfortunately not nearly as grimy of film stock as what would have been seen in an exploitation film at the time, the sequel is a bit more clean for my liking, but I could still feasibly see this film being made in the late ‘70s.
Camille Keaton returning to her signature role of Jennifer Hills was a welcomed aspect about the movie, I appreciated her efforts in trying to bring some life to the picture. How much of a real difference her talents make are certainly debatable, but at least it was something relatively enjoyable. As much as I did not care for Déjà Vu, it was nice to see Keaton back. For the brief amount of time that we are allowed to view her performance anyways. That’s something I’ll get more into later is Keaton’s rather limited screen time and my disappointment of such a short presence.
Jamie Bernadette as Jennifer’s daughter, Christy, is fairly decent from what I was able to gather. I won’t go so far as to say that she was on par with Keaton in the ’78 feature, with that said though, she was still solid enough reason to why I was able to endure as much of the absurdly lengthy runtime that I did. There wasn’t really all that much chemistry between her and Keaton, Bernadette’s lines were occasionally read with a somewhat amateurish degree. However there were times that she was able to shine and she definitely had a good look to her when it came to the more intense portions of the narrative. Overall, she was a fine enough actress.
That’s the End of That.
When it comes down to figuring out where this sequel went wrong, all roads lead to the writing. Specifically the writing in its villains and the pacing; resulting in one hell of a slog that is relentless with overbearing rednecks. Seriously, I grew restless as more time passed. Seconds felt like minutes. Minutes felt like hours. Hours felt like days. Déjà Vu could not have ended soon enough for me, not necessarily because it was downright terrible, it just felt like a chore to sit through. The original was smart about how it handled its characters and then when certain scenes dragged on, it was intentional as it added to some of the horrifying reality of our heroine’s agony. When things drag on in Déjà Vu, it adds only to my own personal agony.
Every line of dialog uttered from the mouths of our antagonists is basically generic, crazy religious cult, white trash slinging constant obscenities. Either that or exposition explaining who they are and why they want revenge. There is practically no in between. These rednecks get old real fast because there is nothing to them other than being loud and zany while saying the word “b*tch” about a hundred times a scene. To pick which one of the villains I disliked the most is a tossup, because I’m pretty sure I found them all equal parts annoying. At no point was I intimidated or entertained by these noisy morons. Were there rednecks as our baddies in the original? Yes, but they were performed at least more entertainingly and also the role of Johnny really balanced things out with interjecting a lot of suspense as well as charisma. That was an element sorely missing in this sequel, especially since these characters bring up the character of Johnny from the original on numerous occasions.
It Wouldn’t End
Every single scene came across as though it went on far too long, as though a scene’s natural conclusion would have been no more than a two minute length yet the scene goes on for seven minutes instead. Don’t get me wrong, it is more than okay for scenes to go for extensive amounts of time. Except for when there is nothing in the material to support the time frame. When all there is to the dialog is characters yelling and calling the protagonist a “b*tch” while the framework on the scene is no more than a few key steps, there is no reason why it should run any longer than a few minutes. Yet, for whatever reason, the writer/director stretches all of the scenes out farther than what they are logically meant for.
The Story in General Doesn’t Support the Overly Long Runtime:
- Rednecks discover how to nab Jennifer Hills and her daughter.
- Rednecks kidnap the women.
- Three of the rednecks take Jennifer and threaten her while one redneck drives Christy away to presumably be murdered.
- Both of the women break free from their captors in extremely lazily stupid ways.
- Jennifer is caught and killed by the leader redneck. Less than halfway through. About the 50 minute mark.
- Christy so happens to stumble across her mother’s dead body in a major convenience of happen-stance.
- Approximately an hour in, the rednecks chase Christy down in the woods and proceed to rape her. Nowhere near as impactful as the original.
- The simpleton randomly grows a heart of gold and helps Christy get away while the others kind of just sit there and let it happen.
- Rednecks have a funeral for Jennifer Hills and literally spit on her grave for several minutes.
- Christy comes back to get revenge the next day, after she sleeps naked in the woods. Because sure. She doesn’t even start seeking revenge until almost the 90 minute mark.
- Christy kills the whole redneck family and discovers that her father is Johnny. No sh*t. For some reason the movie thought that was some sort of twist, but they telegraphed it from the very beginning. It took two and a half freaking hours for the movie to catch up with what I already figured out literally hours prior.
- After Christy has gotten her revenge, she collects the body of her deceased mother and drives away.
- The End.
There is not nearly enough story here to support two and a half hours, not even close. I understand the temptation to go all out and make this one epic of an exploitation with all the excitement there must have been for this project. There is no doubt a lot of ambition went into the making of this film, but I’m sorry. Déjà Vu has no business being any longer than 100 minutes, maximum. Sadly this was overblown and padded out with an abundance of unnecessary time wasters that add nothing while going nowhere. A film like this needs a brisk pace to it or else it begins to fall apart. I’m not sure if it was pretention or misguided excitement that got in the way here, but there clearly needed to be another pass on the script to trim the excess fat that this screenplay so desperately needed to lose.
For the most part, the in-camera effects look passable. This is an exploitation film so there definitely should be a certain approach taken when it comes to the aesthetic of this genre. There should never be any place for CGI, especially CGI blood, in a sequel to I Spit on Your Grave. Someone must have not gotten the memo because there are a few times where some really ugly computer effects barges their way into the picture. Seriously, the official sequel to I Spit on Your Grave with the same director/writer and they thought that splicing in some god awful CGI gore effects would be a good idea? Regardless of what one may feel about the original, the practical nature is still part of the identity of basically any classic exploitation film. CGI, especially bad CGI, does not belong anywhere near a movie like this. Whoever thought that these effects looked remotely good should lose their job immediately.
A defining element of 1978’s I Spit on Your Grave was how grounded in reality everything felt, particularly when it came to the unnerving violence portrayed on screen. All of that seems completely absent in this installment as this achieves closer to the tone of a cartoon rather than grisly realism. This is a film that contains a scene where a man receives a gunshot to his… personal area… then reacts as though it was merely nothing at all. Practically a flesh wound. Proceeding that incident is our protagonist shoving her pistol into the man’s ass and delivering the line, “F*ck you, Asshole”. Firing the gun, which apparently results in the bullet passing all the way through the man’s body to exit out of his skull. Yep, this is obviously basing itself off of Looney Tune logic. The violence is not spine-chilling nor humorous, it’s simply lame. Especially when the CGI blood comes out of nowhere for no good reason.
Sadly, I can’t come up with any reason to go out of your way to watch this movie. If someone has two and a half hours to kill and there is literally nothing else to watch, I guess this will be fine for something that is playing in the background. Although I retain that it is not worth even that type of viewing experience. However, if this is being played to be fully paid attention to for the entirety of its runtime… it’s really not worth it. It’s a simple story that has way too much unnecessary crap tossed in to extend the runtime beyond anyone’s convenience. The villainous rednecks are ear-splitting in how irritating they are. There’s nothing interesting, entertaining, clever, disturbing, suspenseful, etc. to be seen here. Camille Keaton is axed off less than halfway through the movie, making her role feel disappointingly underwhelming. Leaving us with her new replacement in Jamie Bernadette, who is okay but nothing to keep me all that engaged. Filmmaking wise, it does have some fine qualities to it, that is still a far cry from a true recommendation on my part. My suggestion would be to look elsewhere, watch the original instead or if you’re in the mood for another rape-revenge movie then maybe check out Ms. 45, Savage Streets, Sudden Impact, and Rape Squad to name a few. There’s no need to ever see I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu when there is simply better out there. If we’re lucky, forty years from now will spawn another sequel and it’ll actually be good.
Which Spit Do You Prefer?
Which installment in the 'I Spit on Your Grave' series is your favorite?
That’s All Folks…
I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu… meh. What did you think? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Wish that someone would sh*t on my grave? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a spitty day? I should stop trying.
© 2019 John Plocar