DEVIL'S REJECTS, THE
The Firefly family of brutal serial killers and torturers are ambushed one morning at their remote farmhouse hideaway by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) and his men. Only Otis (Bill Moseley) and his sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) escape the attack, and later meet up with their father (Sid Haig) who masquerades as the hideous clown Captain Spaulding. Their arrival at an isolated motel signals the continuation of their horrific brutalization of innocents in their path, as they target a small group of traveling entertainers. Incensed and driven by revenge for his brother who died at the hands of the Firefly family, Sheriff Wydell now prays for help from the Lord to be 'the arm of justice' as he goes after the depraved killers - but not as a lawman.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In a disconcerting shift from campy horror to ultra-naturalistic violence, Rob Zombie follows up his feature debut of House of 1000 Corpses with The Devil's Rejects, studiously avoiding the 's' word: sequel. It's disconcerting because the horror that is contained by cinematic conventions gives way to depravity and cruelty of such intensity as to be beyond genre.
In terms of his characters being one remove and thus somehow so 'other' as to be outside our own reality, Zombie has it each way; some of the moral flatliners in the Firefly family and entourage are grotesques. The father, for example, whose blackened gums match the black outline of his clown make up around his ugly, bulging eyes and bald head. Tiny, an impossibly ugly caricature of evil, ironically nicknamed for his stature. And then there are the brother and sister Fireflies; he is dishevelled and longhaired but relatively good looking, while Sheri Moon Zombie is such an Elizabeth Shue look alike that his and her physical wholesomeness is disturbingly reminiscent of all those ordinary looking serial killers in the news. He also shows us these vicious sadists in slo-mo while frolicking in summer light.
Zombie movies (as in the genre, not Mr Rob Zombie's movies) and traditional horror films have one thing in common; the slashers are not the boys and girls next door types. This is a departure that shows bravado: defy the genre. It undermines the film.
But Zombie's movie (now I'm referring to Mr Rob Zombie) takes an even bigger leap in its treatment of the violence and the depravity. True, it is not feasible to show the true depravity of these characters without going all the way; but is Zombie having it each way on this as well, wanting to shock & shlock to entertain, while also treating his subject seriously as an exploration of these characters and their moral void. He raises questions about the sanity of his characters; he mixes genre conventions with confusing results and he invests his defunct characters - all of them, one way or another - with a romantic, heroic streak that defiles humanity.
Set in the 70s and lacking any real characterisation, the action is all style over substance.
Zombie clearly believes that nothing succeeds like excess and he is deep into excess. Someone once said that being constantly, unremittingly excited gets boring. So true.
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DEVIL'S REJECTS, THE (MA)
CAST: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, William Forsythe
PRODUCER: Andy Gould, Mike Elliott, Rob Zombie
DIRECTOR: Rob Zombie
SCRIPT: Rob Zombie
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phil Parmet
EDITOR: Glenn Garland
MUSIC: Tyler Bates
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anthony Tremblay
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 13, 2005