The Devil’s Rejects (2005) Review
The Devil’s Rejects was directed and written by Rob Zombie (31, Halloween) and stars Sid Haig (THX 1138, House of the Dead), Sheri Moon Zombie (The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, 3 from Hell) Bill Moseley (Dark Roads 79, Exorcism at 60,000 Feet), William Forsythe (Ida Red, Cold Pursuit), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), Matthew McGrory (The Dead Hate the Living, ShadowBox), Geoffrey Lewis (Night of the Comet, Double Impact), Leslie Easterbrook (Beast Mode, Dark, Police Academy) and Danny Trejo (A Tale of Two Guns, The Legend of La Llorona). It follows the Firefly family as they try to escape a police force searching for vengeance for the events of the first movie.
The Plot: Zombie’s story for The Devil’s Rejects is nasty by design. After a standoff with the police, including sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) for their murders from House of 1000 Corpses and prior, the Firefly family; consisting of Spaulding, Baby, Otis, and Tiny (Haig, Zombie, Moseley, and McGrory), are now on the run. Mother Firefly (Easterbrook) is arrested, and Otis and Baby escape.
After their car is shown on TV, they ditch it and run into Roy (Lewis) and Gloria, whom they hold hostage for no reason other than to pad the runtime. Spaulding meets the others and they hide in a brothel owned by Charlie (Foree) a friend of Spaulding. Wydell and his men eventually find the brothel and have another standoff which ends up getting the Fireflys captured. They then have a confrontation with Wydell.
The Characters: Characters are more mixed this time around. While they have personalities, only some are well written. Spaulding is great, having at least some semblance of thought and reasoning while still being a complete loon. Otis is horrible, but that is the point. He makes some good jokes and does the same things as the others in the family. Baby is the same as Otis but is female and gets endless shots for the camera. Wydell is a solid protagonist, having an affinity for Elvis and an unrelenting quest for righteous revenge.
The performances in The Devil’s Rejects are equally 50/50, with Haig and Moseley being captivating and hilarious in nearly every scene they’re in. Zombie is awful, sure she looks good, but she somehow manages to both under and overact. She tries hard to show some presence but still ends up falling leagues short of her costars. Forsythe is great, his gravelly voice, commanding demeanour, and the perfect amount of craziness make him more reserved than the Fireflys, but still on edge. Everyone else gives weak performances in a movie that so desperately needed lively ones.
The Horror: Scares never arrive in The Devil’s Rejects. After the first movie used so many moments of pure shock value to attempt to scare the viewer, the second outing for the Firefly family relies on the same stuff from the first one, although there are a couple of good scenes of intimidation from Otis and Spaulding, but nothing that makes the rest of the non-scares worth it. Scenes involving Roy, Gloria, Wendy, and Adam all go on for far too long, as is standard in a Rob Zombie movie.
His indulgence in his gore and nudity-filled mind never adds anything to the scares, it only makes The Devil’s Rejects seem unnecessarily long and flat. Some thrills are pointed more toward the direction of the Firefly family; trying to send a bit of sympathy from the audience their way with music cues, dramatic setups, and scared shots of Baby. It sends a lot of mixed messages and zero thrills.
The Technics: Technically The Devil’s Rejects is all over the place. Editing is sometimes in homage to grindhouse movies of the ’70s and other times modern. The pacing is terrible, with around 15 minutes being spent in the motel with the people Baby and Otis held captive, which adds literally nothing to the story. Equally unnecessary and boring is the scene early in the movie where Charlie talks to one of his girls and another where he buys some chickens.
At least 20 minutes could be removed from The Devil’s Rejects with zero consequence; there is nothing special about the torture scenes, hostages, or gore. Music is placed sporadically throughout the movie, shattering what little modicum of suspense does exist by pure happenstance with tracks that are definitely emblematic of the ’70s but add nothing to the experience.
Rob Zombie made an earnest attempt at a movie with The Devil’s Rejects, but cannot write or direct an interesting story, and several of the actors give terrible performances; most notably in his wife, Sheri. Despite some good lines and scenes and conviction from Haig, Moseley, and Forsythe; the movie becomes yet another failure from a hack director.