24 July 2005 | mstomaso
Worth Seeing, But Check Out "House..." First
Rob Zombie took the same characters he created for House of a Thousand Corpses and gave us a higher-budget, flashier, and more commercialized murder-shocker - The Devil's Rejects. This is certainly a prettier and more polished film, with better production values, occasionally brilliant camera-work, and better acting (despite having the same principal cast). The same elements of the original are mostly intact - a psychotic serial killing family, vaguely satanic sadism, comedy, torture and a lot of blood. What's missing are the ambiguities, the darkness and the outright psychosis which appear in "House". And to compensate the audience for the loss of some of the elements which made "House" a good film, Zombie throws in sex - the most over-used plot device in cinematic history. Of course, its not just sex, but sexual violence mixed with torture, blood and nightmares.
In other words, where 'house' was a dark, campy, creepy murder flick, "Rejects" is a light-drenched, raw, fairly (but not entirely) serious murder flick. No problems with the script, the acting, the concept, or even the plot - but, some definite problems with the entertainment value of the film. This just isn't terribly original and drops the idiosyncrasy of "House" for a typical Hollywood approach.
Rejects starts out with a police raid on the house of a thousand corpses. Most of the family escape through a tunnel in their basement (why the police were unable to find this tunnel is a mystery). The police nab the mother, who plays up the satanic expectations of the police interrogating her and infuriates the sheriff (well played by William Forsythe) into an obsessive, vengeful state (his brother had been murdered by the family years ago). The Fireflies leave a trail of terror and murder in their wake and Forsythe follows it, until he is able to set his trap. I won't go any further with the plot outline because I do not want to write a spoiler, but I do want to elaborate on Forsythe's intense performance. His rage and self-righteous wrath blur the boundaries between cops and criminals quite effectively as the story progresses. If you want to know what I mean, you'll have to see the film.
The Firefly family, through most of the film, consist of Otis a lank tall man with long stringy gray hair, Captain Spaulding, an intimidating evil and merciless clown and Baby, Spaulding's daughter, a cute blond particularly fond of torturing her male victims. The characters are more or less consistent with their portrayals in "House", but I have to admit, I think Shari Moon Zombie's Baby was very inconsistent from film to film. In "House" she is completely and utterly insane and fearless - using her shrill psychotic laughter especially well. In 'Rejects', she screams a lot, does a lot of running-away, and is actually fairly rational compared with her sadistic, torture-loving murderous kin.
Finally, I don't think you can really 'get' this film if you haven't seen 'House'. So if you have any reason to want to see it, see "House" first. Some of the behavior of the characters will make little sense to you without their back-story.
Bottom line: Weakly recommended for horror fans.