The horror movie genre is filled with tired ideas, frivolous bloodshed and predictable endings. The Devil’s Rejects manages to take bits and pieces from many horror films and graft from these a new monster.
The Devil’s Rejects is the sequel to Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, itself an homage to the horror films of the 1970s. The crazed Firefly family destroys two innocent couples in House, and the end of the film leaves questions as to whether their killing streak will continue. Rejects picks up on the twisted state of the family’s affairs as they enter a bullet-filled standoff with local police. The police track missing persons to the Firefly residence and attempt to capture the psychotic killers.
Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) escape from the police to warn their creepy clown of a father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), and rendezvous at a nearby motel. A trail of innocent blood is shed as the trio tries to flee from their police pursuers. A stern Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) leads the brigade attempting to capture the killers. The slippery tactics of the killers and his own personal vendetta cause Wydell’s actions to turn from earnest to vigilante justice.
Rejects is a different type of film than its predecessor. Zombie’s original was a campy take on his favorite parts of many ‘B’ horror films and classics. It used vivid colors, quick image flashes and an upbeat soundtrack to counteract the graphic violence onscreen. Zombie infused House with a sick brand of humor that kept the film from feeling heavy and dreary. In Rejects, much of that is gone. An offbeat soundtrack remains, but against far more disturbing images and too much eerie effect. The film flows like a normal feature without the choppy flashes to break the intensity. A touch of the original humor is added to a few scenes, but Rejects is a much more gritty film.
Zombie adequately builds suspense and gives a healthy dose of bloodshed. The unrelenting killers deliver squirm-worthy performances. Haig does an effective job as the demented father and mastermind of their getaway. Moseley’s performance is almost too realistic and creepy. He plays Otis with such angry fierceness that it is almost uncomfortable to look at him. Sheri Moon, Zombie’s wife, is captivating. She is beautiful and manages to create a monstrous character despite her diminutive physical stature. Forsythe is perhaps over the top at times, but seems appropriate for the role.
The film feels inventive and new, which is no small feat for a horror movie. However, it is very dark, and the campy feel that made the original feel outrageous and likeable is lost in Rejects. On the whole, it is a disturbing movie. The characters’ actions seem cruel, and even though the first film had just as much blood, Rejects feels gory by comparison. That said, the film is a stylish conglomerate of horror movie moments and is well done. Rejects is certainly not the feel-good movie of the year, but it is an interesting vision of the twisted world of mass murders and gratuitous death and violence.
Horror, R, Running time: 101 mins.