Back in 1978, a little film from Meir Zarchi stirred a world of controversy. Once called Day of the Woman, other times shown under the title I Hate Your Guts or The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hill, the title was changed to I Spit on Your Grave for the 1980 re-release, making it the most common associated with the film. Graphic, vile, and sexually violent, many nations, including Ireland, Norway, Iceland, and West Germany, opted to ban the film altogether; as others heavily cut it before even allowing it to be released. Some would say the film glorified violence against women, while others would argue it is a misunderstood feminist leaning story.
Whatever the opinion might be, I Spit on Your Grave caught a lot of attention, and is without question a cult classic Horror film of the highest order. It even spawned 1993’s unofficial sequel, Savage Vengeance, as well as the 2010 remake, along the follow-ups, 2013’s I Spit on Your Grave 2 and 2015’s I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine.
However, you can ask any fan, and they will tell you nothing has ever lived up to the skin-crawling quality of Zarchi’s original. That is why it comes with great deal of surprise and curiosity that Zarchi decided to go back to the beginning, creating I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu. Sure, he has been involved in other films in the I Spit on Your Grave world, acting as an executive producer on the remake and each of its sequels, but I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu actually sees Zarchi return to write and direct an official sequel to his original. So, is your stomach turning, or are you excited yet?
Given a brief historic timeline, quietly, filming for I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu began over 5 years ago, and was completed by 2015, yet never saw release. With buzz floating around forums on the internet among astute Horror fans, many wondered if it actually would ever see release. Now the wait is over and on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, it makes its way to Blu-ray and DVD through Deja Vu LLC. Now, the real question is, does it act as a worthy sequel to the infamous original film? Read on and find out…
Picking up after what can only be assumed at least three decades later, the original rape victim, Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton: What Have You Done to Solange? 1972, I Spit on Your Grave 1978), is now a successful author and support counselor for other women who have been assaulted. Also the mother of a beautiful, young lady who is a top model, Christy Hills (Jamie Bernadette: The 6th Friend 2016, 4/20 Massacre 2018), life seems to have turned out pretty well; in spite of her suffered trauma many years earlier. Unfortunately for Jennifer, the past is back to haunt her when some unknown persons named Kevin (Jonathan Peacy: Railway Spine 2016, Opus of an Angel 2017) and Scotty (Jeremy Ferdman: Dominion 2016, Robbery 2018) abduct her along with Christy with nefarious intentions.
Soon enough it is discovered these two seedy characters have come from the very isolated Connecticut countryside town Jennifer survived her brutal gang rape, only to bring her back from New York City to seek vengeance for the murder of her attackers – Johnny, Matthew, Stanley, and Andy. Amped up and very determined, what exactly do Kevin and Scotty have planned for Jennifer and Christy? More over, what connection do they have to the rapists?
Clocking in at nearly 2 and a half hours long, there is much to be discovered with I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu, too much to even outline in words. In truth, it could be argued that perhaps the film could benefit from a little more editing to trim down the running time at least 30 minutes. It is not to say the story lacks pace or intrigue, but there are many scenes which drag on a bit too long, and slicing them down would not at all hinder the overall effectiveness.
That in mind, Zarchi does an exceptional job of creating the same uncomfortable atmosphere as his original I Spit on Your Grave. In fact, remove yourself from the fact that this is a modern sequel with naturally higher quality video, and you would instantly feel it’s a sequel that could fit the bill of a classic late ’70s/early ’80s exploitation Horror film. There are the quirkier characters, off-beat soundtrack selections, and a steady tension building pace.
Furthermore, Camille Keaton’s reprisal of Jennifer Hills is spot-on and immediately re-acquaints you with the character. A strong woman, you see she has also raised a strong, free-thinking daughter in Christy. Which leads us to new lead actress, Jamie Bernadette, who is a perfect selection for Christy. Beautiful, smart, and unpredictable, suffering her own share of brutally and pain, she proves to be an unbreakable force to be reckoned with. Then there are the gang of antagonists led by the foul mouthed, vicious Becky, energetically portrayed by Maria Olsen (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief 2010, Reunion 2015). Together, the entire cast all bring this vile tale into the 21st century.
Overall, I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu is not for everyone, but then again, neither was the original. Something you need to have a strong stomach for, if you can bare it, there is actually a moral to it all. What that is, depends on your mindset, but if anything, perhaps this latest entry by Zarchi teaches us that perhaps revenge is not always the best retribution; that is up to you to decide though. Wild and crazy, I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu is indeed a worthy sequel that paves its own way rather than lean on the nostalgia of the original. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.