Written and Directed by Rob Zombie.
This review has taken a lot longer to write than my other ones and I’ve struggled with how to even talk about The Devil’s Rejects. The film left me quite speechless and even a day later I’m still not quite sure how to articulate my thoughts on it. After watching Zombie’s Halloween and its sequel I went in to The Devil’s Rejects expecting one thing and ended up with something else entirely.
The Devil’s Rejects focuses on a family of complete psychopaths as they go on the run from the police and an insane Sheriff who’s almost just as insane as they are (in a different way). From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that though we’re following the Firefly family they are not the good guys. We’re thrust in to the story with a massive shootout in their farm that ends up with one Firefly member dead, Mama Firefly captured, and Otis and Baby on the run to meet Captain Spalding, their dad. It’s bloody and it’s loud and it sets the stage. We’re treated to some horrendously disturbing moments in a hotel room that Baby and Otis have taken hostage and the film doesn’t shy away from showing just how evil this family is, from Otis raping a hostage’s wife to Baby’s sheer joy in the show and the killing, Zombie forces you to watch these evil people, and the mad world around them. The sheriff after them is just as mental. While still the good guy he ends up just as insane as them and the final confrontation back at the Firefly farm is gritty and intense, and you don’t know who to cheer for, or if you should be cheering at all.
What was immediately fascinating to me as this film started was just how casual Zombie made the violence in it. With every other horror I’ve seen so far, from Friday the 13th to Hellraiser, killing and gore is glorified and put in center frame with loud music cues and intense frames. But killing and rape and evil is the world to the Firefly family and Zombie echoes that through the frame itself, making every kill “just another kill”. Hell, the movie opens with Tiny dragging a corpse through the wood and Otis waking up beside a naked, very dead, woman like that’s just another Tuesday to them and the immediate shootout feels almost normal. Zombie forces you to watch as they do the evil things they do and he makes sure nothing’s left to the imagination and he’s unrelenting in making sure you as the audience are right there with the action. When things get abnormal for the Firefly family he suddenly turns it up so the frame evolves with the characters inside, making it just as much a character.
The acting in this film is top notch. Sheri Moon Zombie delivers a disturbingly good performance as the sexually-charged maniac Baby and she lets show through a slip of innocence that Baby might have, having grown up in this demented family. Sid Haig as the geriatric Spalding is both humorous and dark, giving the clown a sense of ease in knowing what he’s doing and a force of nature in that he always gets what he wants either willingly or not. Bill Moseley brings the “insane” to Insanity in the roll of Otis. While the other characters have moments of weird normalcy Otis is the complete psychopath and every moment he’s on screen Moseley steals the show, with the moment he butchers Roy and his friend in the middle of the desert a perfect example. While spouting on and making fun of them for praying to god Otis butchers the two men with a smile and Moseley is unrelenting in showing that force of evil that Otis is. The whole cast of characters in The Devil’s Rejects is interesting because they all represent a caricature. The characters of this film are larger than life and they’re exaggerated, but because they all are it doesn’t seem odd or out of place, it adds more to this strange world that Zombie has created.
The frame itself is very beautiful. Zombie uses a vibrant color pallet so the deserts seem browner, the white clothes whiter. When they reach Spalding’s brother’s prostitute town the neon signs pop with beautiful bright colors that give you some fresh sights from the reds and the browns. The music is unique where Zombie uses an almost Gunn-esque style take on it, using more music by other artists to bring up scenes, with the use of “Free Bird” at the end of the film elevating the already breath-taking and intense scene to this level that I couldn’t look away from.
The Devil’s Rejects was a hard film to review because it stayed with me after it was done. It effectively dug into my brain and began to disturb me bit by bit in my subconscious until the credits started to roll when I realized I hadn’t looked away and I was really bothered by the entire thing. It is an amazing film and Zombie singlehandedly punches his way in to your eyes and brain to make sure the film stays with you for days to come. If you haven’t seen it yet it’s absolutely worth a watch.
So, have you seen the Devil’s Rejects, and if so what did you think? Are you a fan of Rob Zombie’s other films?
See you tomorrow for the next review!