This movie has a more subtle title than its prequel, “House of 1000 Corpses”, but that's about all that's subtle. According to the BBFC, Rejects “Contains strong bloody violence, language and sexual threat.” while the MPAA goes even further and states: “Rated R for sadistic violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use.” So not exactly a good night of family entertainment, then?
The Devil's Rejects carries on after the conclusion of the first movie and, essentially, leaves a bloody trail of corpses all over the place. An army of police officers surrounding the Firefly household, the Firefly's being the family of murderers form 1000 Corpses, insist that the family lay down their weapons and come out peacefully. Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon, wife to director Rob Zombie) and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) all don Ned Kelly style armour and make a stand of things. Clearly this family is of the mind that they will all go down fighting the lawly siege.
But what's this? Ah! A needlessly convoluted escape route into a handy sewer outlet facilitates the murderer's escape, but not before Mother Firefly falls a cropper to the police. Will she spill the beans as easily as she has spilt other's guts? Where will the other family members go? And just how many times in one movie can the 'F' word be used before it degenerates into parody?
Rejects is a movie of extremes. On one hand there is a genuine sense of playful camaraderie in both the murderers and the murdered. On the other there is a sickening cadaverous pile of steaming violence and licentiousness. The result is that I just didn't get what was supposed to be put across to the viewer: an Evil Dead 2 style parody or a Toolbox Murders style movie where the more outlandish the murder the more comedic it appears. Sometimes I thought that the murderers were being portrayed as a hapless bunch of idiots that are just ricocheting from one disaster to another until they find somewhere to hide out. The part where Baby asks for an ice-cream is particularly out of place in the context of what had just transpired and that's the whole problem right there: the insinuated violence and the actual acts of torture can hardly be the acts of a bunch of comedic happy go lucky felons, so any levity introduced appears awkward and ill judged. Whereas in something like Evil Dead 2, there is very little that is taken seriously so the gratuitous blood drenched scenes can only be watched as a comedy.
Even the selling point of this movie - the violence - doesn't sit well. There is a level of satanic flavour to most of the key scenes, nails through the hand and such like, and perhaps a little too much Rob Zombie self indulgence, for those not into his work. The blood and guts therefore seem contrived without any real reason for existing other than to satisfy what Zombie considers to be a rebellious jibe at those that deserve it.
But, and this is a big BUT, if you can ignore any pretence of anything even remotely approaching moral justification, or cohesive narrative, then and only then will Rejects work. You will notice that the people onscreen are strangely compelling, buoyed by some cameos from past horror classics (Ken Foree from Dawn of the dead and Michael Berryman from Hills Have Eyes). You will notice that behind the oppressive air of insanity and death there is an awkward kind of family unity which, if not entirely empathetic, does offer some respite from the change of events that happen half way through the movie.
Kudos is also due for the direction and cinematography of Rejects. There is a fresh air of freedom and an unusual attention to detail, here. Every scene is filled with little decorative flourishes that really bring the movie to life. Zombie has a flair for looking at the ordinary and altering the look so that the whole flavour of the movie becomes more than the sum of its parts. Look to the opening gunfight and it fairly crackles with energy - a palpable, kinetic, visceral, raw slice of all action goodness. If anything I would like to see Zombie make something less niche to flex this eye for artistic detail.
Despite a tacked on ending that attempts to ameliorate the movie's rancour, and the artistic direction, this is a broken piece of work that is so infused with its own agenda of gratuitous bloodshed, it becomes nonsensical.
Oh, and the amount of times the 'F' word is used is 560 - apparently the most of any movie (2005).
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