People complain about the shocking material of horror films, and how horror is disgusting, demoralizing, and, well, horrible.
This is no more true than in Rob Zombie’s soulless grungy 2005 film The Devil’s Rejects. The film is the sequel to Rob’s equally depraved but slightly more stylized debut picture House of 1000 Corpses.
The film’s plot centers around the Firefly family, a clan of redneck murderers consisting of Mother Firefly, Baby, Otis, Tiny, RJ, and Captain Spaulding.
At the beginning of Devil’s Rejects the cops roll into the Firefly farm to catch the family unawares. RJ is killed in the ensuing fight, Mother is arrested, only Otis and Baby make it out past the cops.
What follows is ninety minutes of the Otis and Baby’s murderous flight from justice. Once outside the ranch they call Captain Spaulding, who spends his days running a state fair in a clown suit, and his nights as a bloodthirsty fiend. The gruesome twosome decide to shack up in a hotel room and wait for Spaulding. In order to enact this plan, they first need to pick some hapless guest.
They find a traveling folk singing group and what follows is fifteen or so minutes of the most shocking, horrible, scarring, events in horror history. The brother and sister pair of Baby and Otis are beyond immoral, flirting with something satanic. Possibly even more disturbing than their actions (Otis molests one woman in the group with his gun, and Baby’s twisted mind games are unparalleled in their sickness), are the ever-present smiles on their faces. They enjoy what they are doing.
Luckily, to off-set this wickedness is Sheriff John Quincey Wydell. His brother, having been killed in the previous film, still haunts Wydell and warns him that he cannot rest until the Fireflys lie dead and bleeding. Wydell vows to free his brother’s soul and begins stalking the pair with all the reckless abandon of those he hunts. These two powerful forces (The Fireflys and Wydell) are drawn to each other and what occurs is one of the most gripping duels in horror, or anywhere else.
The genuis of Rob Zombie’s work here is its depravity. Rob Zombie might even be called the Sultan of Sick with his soulless brutal filmmaking. He creates characters that not only make you ill, but also engage your sympathy. You are constantly caught in a conflict in deciding who the real villain is: The Fireflys or Wydell. There are no definite answers. Add a badass soundtrack and some bizarrely hilarious dialogue and you have a modern horror film that cannot be matched. The Devil’s Rejects is an amazing movie, if you can ignore the gag reflex.