Directed by Meir Zarchi [Other horror films: Day of the Woman (1978), Don’t Mess with My Sister! (1985)]
Making a sequel to the 1978 exploitation classic was ill-advised. I don’t know the story behind why this sequel was made (it may perhaps have to do with the remake which came out in 2015, followed by two sequels), but regardless, it wasn’t a great decision.
I have maybe three good things to say about Deja Vu, but I want to deal with the elephant in the room first, and the elephant is the two-and-a-half hour run-time.
Listen, I don’t have a problem with longer movies if it’s epic length is fit with an epic story. Titanic has long been a favorite of mine, believe it or not. But no matter how this movie is spun, it’s not some revenge epic, and it certainly didn’t need to be as long as it was. Now, to be fair, if it were cut by an hour (easily doable), the movie would still be bad, but the fact that this movie runs so damn long is just an insult to the viewer.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a ponderous journey into such a joyless world.
This movie was frustrating at pretty much every turn, and it was hard to really care about anything. Sure, after Jennifer Hill (played by Camille Keaton, of course) and her daughter (Jamie Bernadette) are abducted, you hope they can get out, but only because the kidnappers were wholly unbearable.
Maria Olsen isn’t a name I know, and I’ll give her limited props for being one of the better performances here. I couldn’t stand the idiocy of her character at all (if you’re husband was a rapist, and you don’t understand why a woman would kill him, thinking may not be an active past-time for you), and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Roseanne Barr (that voice, tho…), but her graveside conversation to her deceased husband was one of the better scenes.
Another name that I have to give major kudos to is Jim Tavaré, who played Herman, the mentally-handicapped father to Matthew (from the first film). I honestly think Herman would have been worth letting go, but after a certain point, I understand the need to protect yourself. On this note, I loved his introduction, pointing to a picture of his son and trying to understand why Jennifer killed him all those years ago.
I don’t know if I touched on this in my review for the first film, but killing Matthew was probably a mistake. He never would have done anything if he had a better circle of friends, and obviously, he wasn’t mentally competent enough to understand exactly what he was being told to do. Here, Tavaré also feels rather sympathetic at times (especially following the rape, in which he tried to stand up to the three lunatics), and he definitely stood out.
Otherwise, Jonathan Peacy was unbelievably annoying, Jeremy Ferdman generally forgettable, Holgie Forrester just terrible, and Roy Allen III just lukewarm. Forrester and Peacy were definitely the worst here, but God, the story itself was so damn awful that I don’t personally blame any of the performances here for how the final product turned out.
It might be fair to say that, save for some okay performances, the best thing about this film was the flashbacks to the original movie, and the fact that they tried as hard possible to let us know this was a continuation to an over forty year old film, what with the references and locations. None of the kills here were great, and much of the movie was just ponderous tripe.
There were some occasionally interesting ideas here, such as the idea of revenge being circular (the ending, for instance, could easily led to a third movie, which would be rather regrettable), and the idea of finding a family member decapitated is pretty horrifying, but much of this is drowned out by just how hard Deja Vu is to sit through.
I don’t know the intention behind this film, but more than anything, I found it an insult to the original, which is a shame, given that they got Keaton back, and it’s directed by the same damn guy. Even so, I thought this was just awful.
This is unfortunately one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear my real pain, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu.