Released: 23rd April
Seen: 29th April
In 1978, the film I Spit On Your Grave was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. Directed by first time director Meir Zarchi, the film was soon branded as one of the most shocking pieces of exploitation cinema to ever be released. While I Spit On Your Grave might not be the first film in the exploitation subgenre known as the Rape-Revenge film, it’s certainly the most infamous due to its brutality and the rawness of the lead performance. It’s not a great film by any means but it does earn its place in history as a piece of exploitation cinema, the likes of which we had never seen before. It was even remade in 2010 with a proper budget and filming equipment… and then Meir Zarchi decided he wanted to pick up a camera again and, since nobody tackled him to the ground while screaming ‘NO!’ loudly as they could, we ended up being saddled with I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu. Buckle up, this is going to hurt.
I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu is a direct sequel to the original, much in the same vein that Halloween (2018) is a direct sequel to the original Halloween, set 40 years after the events of the first movie. Starring Camille Keaton, reprising her role as Jennifer Hills from the original film, Deja Vu shows that Jennifer has written a book about the events of the original film and is doing interviews to promote it. Listening to her interviews are the relatives of her rapists, all of whom believe that Jennifer was Satan’s temptress who seduced their rapist family members and forced them to force their penises inside her. Naturally, this means that the relatives of the original rapists want to find and kill Jennifer, and might also rape and kill her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette) while they’re there, because why not? Also, I hate this film, I hate this day, and I hate the fact that I’m typing words right now to tell you about it but this is what I have decided to do with my life.
Much as I loathe to admit it, I can at least see the appeal of the original. It’s an endurance test of a film that people watch for the bragging rights, show how much you can handle by watching one of the most brutal films around. On top of that, it at least provided what one could expect from the genre of Rape-Revenge… namely, there is a rape victim who gets her revenge. There’s a weird catharsis in that, hell the longest-running primetime series in TV history (Law & Order: SVU) basically lives by that idea so I get why the original film manages to stick around in the memory for over 40 years. This film barely sticks in the memory during its two and a half hour runtime.
There is nothing about this film that makes it worthy of existing. NOTHING. Not a single solitary second of this film is even remotely worthy of anyone’s time and considering that there is almost two and a half hours of film here to look at, surely there should be at least a single solitary second of film that is good just by random chance. Nope, that implies that anyone knows what they’re doing and guess what? No one does. Literally no one. No one in front of or behind the camera knows what they’re doing. Either that or they are intentionally trying to make the worst film possible and if that’s the case… congrats, you did it. Can you never do it again, please?
From the minute the film opens, literally, within a few seconds, it really becomes obvious that this thing was filmed by amateurs who have no idea what they’re doing. It was shot in 2015 but I swear to god there were direct to DVD movies in the early 2000s that had a better camera than this one had. The framing of every shot is just awful, it’s either all extreme close-ups that cut off the top of the hyper-manic performer’s heads or wide shots that kill all potential tension. Nothing interesting is happening in any of the shots, a good director might try and hide something in the background to create tension or use a camera angle to suggest who has the most power in any given scene, but we don’t have one of those good directors around here so we’re going to have to deal with the excrement that we’ve been given.
Releasing this film now is interesting because we are living in the #Metoo era where sexual assault is actually being taken seriously. This could’ve actually made for a mildly interesting film, maybe they could’ve used the modern political discussion around rape as a background and show the horrors of it and how people who fight back are goddamn heroes and… oh wait, sorry, this film was finished in 2015 and even though Tarana Burke created the MeToo hashtag in 2006, it didn’t become a full-blown worldwide phenomenon until 2017 and also this film didn’t even try to address the change in times. Hell, they couldn’t even get it released on the actual 40th anniversary despite filming it 4 years ago, why am I even expecting them to try and use the opportunity to make a political point well. What the hell is goddamn wrong with me? I just… if you’re going to tackle a heavy subject like rape, either do it properly or don’t bother. In this case, they shouldn’t have bothered.
Speaking of things that they shouldn’t have bothered doing, there’s this repeated attempt to make the phrase “I Spit On Your Grave” into an actual thing during the film. It’s in the opening title card that reads “Before setting out on revenge, First dig two graves… And spit on one of them”, characters flat out say the line, they even repeatedly spit on the actual graves that I presume they just stumbled upon and filmed without anyone noticing (I’m guessing, it’s the only way to explain how bad the set design for those scenes is) but the big thing you have to know is that the title “I Spit On Your Grave” was something that marketing came up with years later. On the original release, the 1978 film was called Day of the Woman and no one noticed it. Two years late it gets re-released with the more shocking title of I Spit On Your Grave and boom, it gets all the publicity they can hope for. It’s a meaningless phrase made up to get attention that this film desperately tries to turn into something important but fails because this film can’t even do a basic title drop correctly.
The film can be broken up into about four major parts. Character introduction, rape, revenge, surprise twist that comes out of literally goddamn nowhere. It’s almost impressive how awful the structure of this film is, it’s like they were actively trying to make the film as hard to watch as possible (But there I go again, implying that they were trying). The structure of this film might have worked in some way if they had anyone competent handling the project, but since we don’t have competency, we’ll just have to settle for being irritating.
It cannot be understated that this film is, somehow, more irritating than anything else. I literally caught myself saying the phrase “Can we go back to the rape? At least that wasn’t irritating me” because the performances of the main actors, in particular, Jonathan Peacy as Kevin, are some of the most shockingly annoying performances I’ve ever seen and considering I grew up when Pauly Shore was a thing, that’s saying a lot. These performances should be studied just so actors will know exactly what not to do under any circumstances. It’s beyond shocking that these performances were put on camera and no one said that they might have to do another take.
When you aren’t being annoyed by a godawful performance or having to try and see what’s going on thanks to an incompetent cinematographer, you get to try and understand what’s being said because an angry gibbon got hold of the sound mixing board and decided to operate it with his asshole. If you think the film looks bad, wait until you hear how it sounds (Do not hear how it sounds, if you even think about renting this one I’m going to come around to your house and slap you with a rolled-up newspaper). The mixing is awful, the dubbing is almost comically bad and the use of cheap awful sound effects is beyond contemptible. If a first-year film student handed something in with this sound mix, they would fail their class and they would deserve to.
Speaking of deserving failure, let’s talk about how the editing is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed in an allegedly professional film made by people who have surely at least seen a film before. I wasn’t joking earlier when I said this film was two and a half hours long, it’s nearly as long as Endgame except this time I made sure to get up and go to the bathroom so I could miss as much as possible. There is literally no need for this film to be that long, it has no sense of flow or timing. Moments that should be shocking are dulled by a piss poor editing job. It feels like they only shot two and a half hours of film total, arranged it in order and released that because this isn’t even a good enough first draft edit. So much could be trimmed and cut to save time. I mean, my first suggestion would be to highlight the entire timeline, delete it, delete the original footage, scrub the computer the files were put on, set fire to the computer, take the ashes outside, bury the ashes and then salt the earth to ensure that nothing will ever grow there again but if you can’t do that, maybe trim a few scenes, you could probably cut out the elderly characters and at least the last 20 minutes of the film… but you’re welcome to try the salting the earth thing, if you want.
I have never in my entire life seen a film as bad as this. It’s not even shocking, shocking would imply that they tried. It’s not so bad that it’s funny, the only time I laughed was when I remembered that I paid money to experience this. It’s bad, it’s a poorly made piece of crap that doesn’t even deserve the creativity that it takes to think up the adjectives required to describe it insultingly. It’s a nothing film, staring at a blank wall for two and a half hours will give you more feeling. I do not expect much from films in this genre, but I expect them to shock me. I expect to feel shock and horror that someone would make such a film but all I feel is pity. I feel pity that this is the best that this ‘filmmaker’ can come up with after 40 years.
And the worst part? I know for a fact that they are going to revel in getting a bad review. It worked for them last time, they want people to be offended. Their iTunes page boasts that this is “The most anticipated sequel of all time” which is almost adorable considering this is being released around the same time as Endgame, so I know they’re delusional but on top of that I’ve previously tweeted about my shock that this film even exists. I literally tweeted that this sequel wasn’t needed, and one of the producers liked the damn tweet. They do not care, they just hope that their film will be shocking enough to get notoriety and people watching it as an endurance test. It’s not worth it, you have better things to do. Let this film be buried with the other sequels and spit upon where it’s been placed. This thing barely deserves to be called a film, and I hope to god no one involved ever makes another one because they do not have the talent required to do it.