The Devil's Rejects review by The Grim Ringler

It’s funny to me when you hear people decrying the violence of films and how vile and worthless such films are. It’s funny because you don’t have to see movies like this if you don’t want to. That’s why they have ratings and movie reviews and all – so you can have a heads up as to what you can expect. And heck, you don’t go into a movie with this title and think you’re getting a feel good comedy. But why the allure, some might ask? And I say this – sometimes you have to look into dark places to find some light and truth. And sometimes you just want to look at a car wreck and be glad it isn’t you. Horror isn’t meant to be safe and to make you feel comfortable. It’s meant to show you the shadows and let you make of them what you will.

Having said that…I was a fan, but not the biggest of House of 1000 Corpses. I thought it was a fun movie but that director Rob Zombie missed the tone he was aiming for. He was close, as the film became more and more unsettling as it progressed, but then he killed all of the mood he’d created by putting a silly and fun but pointless scene of two characters going off to get liquor right when the film was amping up to push you downhill like a rollercoaster. The film still works, but there’s a lot of rickety track and it’s hard to really love it outright. You could see what Mr. Zombie was doing, and you could appreciate his influences, but they were all too obvious and made you wish he’d interpret and not imitate. But here we have The Devil’s Rejects, the sequel to House and the chance for Zombie to show that he’s learned from his mistakes. Boy has he ever…

The Devil’s Rejects begins with newspaper clippings of the crimes of the Firefly family, a family that rivals Jack the Ripper for their brutality and horrors. The year is 1978 and they are monsters that are on the verge of being brought into the light. Having killed the brother of the local sheriff, they are marked for death, and not just death, but a death to equal that of all their victims. Despite being surrounded in their home two members of the family – Otis and Baby – escape through a secret tunnel and out into the world. Once free Baby calls the other member of the family that would have escaped, having not been at the house – a man named Captain Spaulding – and the three agree to rendezvous at a local motel so they can figure out what their plan is. Once at the hotel Baby and Otis can’t help themselves from taking five people hostage and playing out their twisted fantasies. Torturing and tormenting their victims, Otis and Baby more than earn their news friendly nickname of the Devil’s Rejects as they await the arrival of Spaulding, slaughtering the family mercilessly out of nothing more than boredom. But as awful as the Firefly clan are, they are nothing compared to the man that hunts them, a man who is using God as his shield and his brother as his cause and is determined to hunt down this family and to make them suffer as none ever have before. And so we have to factions, both evil, but one serving God, in his mind, and the other claiming to serve Satan, and both headed straight for one another, like gods on an ancient field of battle. And whoever should win, hell awaits the victor.

As Matt said, if you are a horror fan, this is for you. This is the kind of horror we rarely see in a theater – dark, smart, and brutal. Something that looks into the abyss and doesn’t flinch, but dares you to look on with it, past the horror and into the light beyond. This is everything that a horror fan has been craving from the movies but have rarely found. This is a mature, adult horror film that brings to mind the films of the seventies – and not just the horror – that were bold enough to show truths that people don’t like to see. No, this is not a film for the masses, but then it was never made or marketed for the masses. No, it will not be a blockbuster, but since when does that mark a film’s ‘artistic’ success? Love it or hate it, what Rob Zombie has made is a film that will become a cult classic some day and a film that lovers of horror films are going to feel very strongly about.

But is it a good movie? It is, actually. Just because it works as a horror film doesn’t mean it works as a film. The dialogue is fantastic, the acting is leagues better than it was in the first film, the direction is strong, the music selections are pitch perfect, and there is actually something being said here, beneath the blood. The question this film poses is – if you could mete out an eye for an eye, if you could get someone, a human monster, and do what you would with them, and get away with it, what would you do? Many people love to say that if they had say, a child molester and they had caught them, that they would torture them brutally and without regret. Yet…would they? Well, we get to ask ourselves that very question in Devil’s Rejects and get a very clear picture that to ‘punish’ these human monsters for their crimes is to become a monster yourself. And revenge is not justice.

The biggest problem, for me, with the film, is that Zombie still goes on too many wild tangents. He did it to the detriment of House but this time the deviations are not that costly, just odd. Such as the brief subplot about where the Firefly gang got their names. And yes, it’s a funny sidebar, but it’s not necessary in the least. But it works this time, maybe because it doesn’t change the characters or the story, it just makes things all the weirder, which is what was intended. If this film reminds me of something it’s Natural Born Killers where the story and ideas are so wild and dark that you wonder how the director will reign it all in to create a watchable film, but in both films the directors were successful, to their credit. But that was it for problems. I was worried about the ending but, wow, it fits the film perfectly and doesn’t sell the audience or the characters out. HOORAY!

And if you are a fan of B or cult films you will LOVE the cast. It’s as if a dozen fallen stars had risen from the career grave and were given a chance to show their stuff, and I for one loved it. I wish more directors would take chances on past actors and what they have to offer.

As you can tell, I loved this film. It far exceeded what I would have hoped, and really put a mark on this year’s summer horror. I liked Land of the Dead but it wasn’t what I had hoped…this, this film was to a ‘T’. A lot of people will dislike it, and so be it. So long as you don’t go into the film and judge it for being what it is – a hardcore horror film. Let’s hope the rest of horror takes some notes.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
blog comments powered by Disqus