Paul Barclay

My Favourite Horror Film – The Devil’s Rejects

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What defines a film as a horror movie? Is it meant to be a jumpy experience? Maybe a lot of gore. How about a lot of tension? Or, could it be that it is meant to truly horrify its audience and go beyond doing a cheap jump scare. This is clearly the direction taken by Rob Zombie in his masterpiece, The Devil’s Rejects.

The Devil’s Rejects is a sequel to Zombie’s previous movie, House of 1000 Corpses, although it is only really a sequel in the fact it follows the same characters. Personally, I hated and do still hate House of 1000 Corpses. It was gore with no reason, all shot with a sickly green tint and was nasty for the sake of nasty. It had no substance and left a bitter taste in the mouth. Which is why I put off watching The Devil’s Rejects for such a long time. I had no interest in seeing any more of Zombie’s work. Eventually, I was convinced to give it a try. I’m glad I was.

Simply, I personally believe that The Devil’s Rejects is the finest horror film I have ever seen. Every part of it is conceived and created with an expert eye. This is due, firstly, to the quality of the writing. It would have been easy for Rob Zombie to have done a simple rehash of the first movie with this one. After all, despite my feelings, House of 1000 Corpses did very good business for what it was. But he didn’t. He decided to go in a very different direction. This movie plays out more like a psychotic western/road movie. It is good film-making to go with this change of direction. He was aware of what people wanted to see from the first movie, but wanted to try his hand at something different. The characters of the three serial killers feel far more real in this movie, which makes it that much more to watch at times. You don’t want characters like this to be real, but the start to feel like it. This is, in part, due to the quality of the writing.

It is also due to the quality of the performances. There are no bad performances in this movie. From Sid Haig as the evil clown Captain Spaulding to Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly, the cast do a fantastic job at delivering these vile characters to us. Special mention must go to horror mainstay Bill Moseley for his stunning role as Otis Driftwood. This performance is frightening, captivating and genuine all at once. You want to look away, but you can’t. There was actually a campaign to get him an OSCAR nomination. It would have been very much deserved.

One final point to consider is how this movie plays with convention. For the most part, you feel like you know exactly where you stand with the story and the characters. They are evil and you want them to suffer. But, then the film goes in another direction and you are no longer sure how to feel. You almost start to care for these characters. To manage that change in feeling in the space of one film is fantastic film-making.

So, you may be asking is The Devil’s Rejects worth watching? My answer is it depends. Before you watch this film, you must be aware that you will see some horrible acts committed by horrific people. At times, it is relentless. To give you an idea, there is a moment in the film that is so nasty that Bill Moseley himself had a hard time performing it. To sum up, The Devil’s Rejects is an absolute 5 star masterpiece. It is one of the most unrelenting, violent and disturbing horror films of recent time. If you feel you can handle it, I thoroughly recommend. But you have been warned.

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