A FilmExposed Film Review
Dir: Rob Zombie, USA, 2005, 101 mins
Cast: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe
The best thing that can be said about The Devil’s Rejects is that it has a certain chaotic momentum. But then so does a dog chasing its own tail. The plot, such as it is, concerns the Firefly family, a degenerate clan of psychopaths, who call themselves the ‘Devil’s Rejects’. What’s the logic of this title? Presumably that the Devil rejects those who are too bad; applicants must be of medium badness or better. Or are they the Devil’s own cadre of rejects? Ambushed at their farmhouse/charnel house by their nemesis, Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe), the Fireflys go on the run, stopping off en route to enact protracted scenes of torture and general mayhem. Halfway through the film Wydell ‘goes native’ and determines to mete out the same treatment to the Fireflys as they have to their victims.
The Devil’s Rejects has the feel of a parody—the screenplay is so appalling one doubts it could have been written in earnest. It clunks away for one hundred minutes, the cinematic equivalent of a brick in a tumble-drier. The most embarrassing interchange sees son Otis (Moseley) inform a soon-to-be-shot-in-the-neck-and-have-a-knife-shoved-down-his-throat victim that ‘the next thing that comes out of your mouth had better be some brilliant Mark Twain shit because it’s going to be chiselled on your gravestone’. Really? Well fancy that.
Rob Zombie’s direction is, appropriately enough, mindless. He remains oblivious to the fact that his idea of post-modernist cinema is actually just plagiarism. The Devil’s Rejects attempts to fuse traditional horror imagery with that of the western, hence there are Butch Cassidy style freeze frames and montages and various references to films such as The Shining (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973). But these films are good bad films. The Devil’s Rejects is not even a bad bad film. It’s just bad. On second thoughts, it’s not even that.
A tedious, quasi-pornographic, derivative and clichéd film which leaves its audience yearning for a tightening up of censorship laws, The Devil’s Rejects is an utter failure. The black comedy isn’t funny, its pseudo-Tarantino scenarios and dialogue only ensure a ten years out-of-date feel. But what can you expect from a director who calls himself Rob Zombie? His sense of humour is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny. The gore is too over-laden to be scary. It’s merely repetitive, devoid of the unnerving grit of the slasher films to which it clumsily pays homage. The characters neither develop nor die soon enough and worst of all the film doesn’t even have the courtesy to look ashamed. In fact it positively preens. Avoid assiduously.