Keep It In The Family
by Brody Rossiter
The Devil’s Rejects is widely considered as Rob Zombie’s most accomplished and satisfying excursion off the beaten track and into murderous madness. A sequel to the ominously titled, House of Thousand Corpses, the picture picks up where the devilish Firefly family left off, carving a violent path through the Texas heartland. However, Sheriff John Quincy has an axe to grind, and is hell-bent on capturing the depraved ensemble dead or alive. So begins a disturbing game of cat and mouse that lingers in perversity and delights in the corrosion of character. Innocent people experience very bad things, and respectable men commit once unthinkable acts.
Zombie’s picture quickly reveals itself as an amped up odes to cult horror drenched in Americana; the menacing and deranged tone of Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre perhaps being the most obvious inflection to flow through Zombie’s backwaters and jugs of moonshine – a little face skinning goes a surprisingly long way in the shock department.
The oversaturated 1970’s aesthetic is both gothic and vibrant. The casting couldn’t have been better. Recognisable, larger-than-life horror genre personalities are seated beside accomplished actors, William Forsyth’s turn as the conflicted sheriff being the most fleshed-out of the bunch. The sense of terror lies in the implication of what will happen next, allowing the viewer to essentially scare themselves into a frenzy as they look toward the darkest corners of their own psyche in preparation for the inevitable wickedness and bloodshed ahead.
Admittedly the distressing road-trip has little sense of direction beyond that of murder and revenge, but realistically, when have acts of brutality committed by high-profile killers ever really shown a true purpose beyond that of self-gratification and nihilism. Zombie may well have no direction home, but he never intended on coming back from the dark side.