Film Review: I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (2019)

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SYNOPSIS:

Forty years after the horrific ordeal that Jennifer Hills went through, her and her daughter Christie are kidnapped by hicks from the town. This despicable group wants to get revenge on Jennifer for the murders she commited, but Christie responds with bloody violence.

REVIEW:

Back in the 70s one of the most controversial films was released into the world in 1978, and shocked the audiences to their very core. That film was none other than Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave aka Day of the Woman. With an offensive and aggressive title alone, there was no surprise that the horror movie itself was brutal, which led to it being heavily censored in some places, and outright banned in other countries, and also found itself placed on the UK’s notorious video nasty list. Many outlets at the time claimed that it glorified violence against women, and was gratuitous in it’s depiction of rape.

Now, many critics ponder on whether this rape revenge film is actually a feminist piece and was misunderstood all along. Regardless of your own personal feelings towards the film, there is no denying that it spawned a legacy and gained cult status with many fans of the extreme horror genre. In 2010 there was a direct remake of I Spit On Your Grave, which although not as hard-hitting as the original, was still well-made and watchable. Director Steven R. Monroe saw that as his go-ahead to create another film I Spit On Your Grave 2 in 2013, which wasn’t favoured as much as his previous venture.

Then another director R.D. Braunstein went on to release I Spit On Your Grave 3 in 2015, which was hit and miss with many audiences. However, Zeir Marchi of the original film needed to ride back on his fame and claim back the title, and therefore we have the latest film in the (what has now become) franchise: I Spit On Your Grave Deja Vu. 

It has been forty years since Jennifer Hills was brutally gang raped and left for dead, only to seek revenge against her attackers and savagely slay them for what they did to her. Jennifer has found fame as the survivor of such an ordeal, and even has an adult daughter, Christie, who is one of the most famous models in the world. Even though they are both living their lives comfortably with the past events far behind them, the families of the men that Jennifer killed have been living with a sour taste in their mouth – one that can be sweetened by exacting their own revenge on her. Both Jennifer and Christie are kidnapped by two men in a van and taken back to the desolate and isolated rural town where everything happened in 1978, and soon discover that not everyone believed the attackers deserved what they got.

Camilla Keaton reprises her role as Jennifer Hills, which helps the audience to immediately connect with this woman in front of us. If you’ve seen I Spit On Your Grave, you’ll remember the horrific and distressing rape and violence that was inflicted upon her and what lengths she went to to exact revenge on those inhumane men. Jamie Bernadette plays daughter Christie, and from the very get-go has the same strong personality that her mother does, creating a sense of realism around these two central characters.

It is hard to have that same distinction with the other characters in the film because only two of them are directly related to the previous film and that’s Becky Stills played by Maria Olsen and Herman (Jim Tavare). Even though she didn’t star in the other film, Olsen plays the husband of slaughtered Jonny and Tavare is the father of Matthew. Kevin (Jonathan Peacy) and Scotty (Jeremy Ferdman) who are also part of this gruesome gang only seem to be distant relatives of the men murdered by Hills.

With a title that includes ‘deja vu’ it’ll come as no surprise that the plot follows a very similar one to that of the 1978 film. After being kidnapped, Jennifer is taken away to be tortured and murdered whilst Christie is being taken back to New York City, supposedly. After a game of cat and mouse, Jennifer is beheaded by Becky and portrayed as some sort of trophy for the town.

Throughout the scenes with Jennifer there are constant cut-in flashbacks from the original film which shows just how much Zarchi wanted to capitalise on his original success. However, sometimes things are better left dead and I Spit On Your Grave Deja Vu feels forced from the very off-set, with no real reason for any of this to be occurring again. With Jennifer dead, Christie seeks revenge but what would the film be without some rape? So that’s thrown in there on a whim just make sure Christie has even more reason to want to butcher the hillbillies.

I Spit On Your Grave Deja Vu feels mean spirited just for the sake of it, and left somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth. What was so important about I Spit On Your Grave 1978 was that even though Jennifer was brutally gang raped, she sought revenge and served it stone cold – triumphing over those monsters.

Deja Vu takes away that triumph and replaces it with a sense of loss and heartache that even after all those years, she got killed by the wife of one of the monsters. It really makes you question why Zarchi decided to do this and what he thought he would achieve. Even though Jamie Bernadette performs as Christie outstandingly, and captures the essence of a woman not to be messed with, it just feels cruel to make these characters go through such torture after all these years, and takes away any feminist angle the original film held.

Christie does deliver some blood drenched violence including mutilating an erect penis with a smashed glass bottle, and watching that is highly satisfying but the audience never needed it.

Revenge is gotten in similar ways and brings a sense of nostalgia to what we see on screen, but paired with a 2hr 28m runtime as well, most viewers are going to struggle to get through this and find something meaningful from it.

I Spit On Your Grave Deja Vu is a film that feels heartless, nasty and exploitative for no real reason other than to remind audiences who the franchise belongs to.

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