The original I Spit on Your Grave (a.k.a. Day of the Woman), Meir Zarchi’s 1978 exploitation masterpiece was a revolution when released. Here was the story of a woman taking control of a male influenced society…and while the flick dealt in metaphor (the debasing rape wasn’t far removed of how a male-dominated society felt about women at the time…a mere object to be dominated and played with; but seldom considered an equal…so you can imagine the liberation the women in the audience felt when Camille Keaton’s Jennifer exacts her vengeance…including castration, on the lethal Lotharios what did her wrong), the message was loud and clear; sisters can indeed do it for themselves!
Flash forward to our turbulent times, when women rightfully consider themselves marginalized, and lo and behold Zarchi returns with a direct sequel to his ’70’s masterpiece; I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu. Will it be the vicious voice of a new distaff generation in the horror biz like it’s predecessor?
The years have passed and Jennifer Hills (a returning Camille Keaton), is now an author who has written extensively about her ordeal and counsels other victims of rape. She’s also the mother to top fashion model Christy (modern scream queen Jamie Bernadette)…who along with Jennifer is abducted by some real backwoods psychos including Becky (Maria Olsen), the widow of one of Jennifer’s attackers from decades past, and her two sons Kevin (Jonathan Peacy) and Scotty (Jeremy Ferdman) and they are out for revenge! Will our heroines survive their stay in those wicked woods and put an end to the years long cycle of vicious violence?
Since 1978, we have gotten a remake of the original I Spit on Your Grave which in turn spawned sequels, but until now Zarchi has never added to the legacy he created in the ol’ sinful seventies…and now that he has returned he has delivered a tale that flows logically from it’s predecessor, and is just as damn disturbing…and despite the more modern look to the film, this flick possesses the same exploitation/grindhouse aesthetic as the first entry without being precious about it (i.e. no artificial film grain, splice marks etc. that modern filmmakers often employ to achieve the same vibe).
A huge part of what makes this film successful is the strength of it’s leading ladies. Keaton and Bernadette make for a dynamic duo, and come across as strong, capable women that despite the shitty hand dealt to them continue to persevere even when surrounded by sheer terror made flesh. Speaking of that terror, Olsen is a malevolent force of nature as the vengeance seeking monstrous matriarch that is every bit as psychotic and sexually violent as the rest of her twisted clan…all of which are cranked way over-the-top to become twisted charactures of all that is vile in human nature.
On the (semi) negative end of the spectrum; this film runs long at nearly two hours and thirty minutes. Admittedly the story doesn’t waiver over that epic length, but things could have been punchier here and there with some trims…though I can certainly appreciate Zarchi’s commitment to let scenes run as long as necessary to achieve his personal vision.
If you are a fan of I Spit on Your Grave, then you would doubtless give I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu a view no matter what I said…but I’m happy to report that this is a fine follow up to the legendary fright flick that is just as relevant and challenging.