Here’s Rob Zombie’s little ha-ha to the film critics: The most obnoxious character in “The Devil’s Rejects,” about a white-trash family of homicidal maniacs, is a movie reviewer.
That critic didn’t get the last word, but the rest of us do – and we did after Zombie’s first horror flick, 2003’s “House of 1000 Corpses,” to which this is sort of a sequel.
The first movie drew just 16 percent positive reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes Web site, and it made only about $12.5 million, despite the press notes for this latest film that claim it was “a bizarre cult hit.”
“Bizarre” is also a good word to describe “The Devil’s Rejects,” which is more coherent and truer to the ‘70s slasher genre Zombie loves, but not necessarily more tolerable. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Dawn of the Dead,” films Zombie cites as influences, had the benefit of building tension.
This is just an assault – a deafening, repetitive, gratuitous mess. Brother-and-sister Otis and Baby (Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie, Rob’s wife) escape an early morning, Ruby Ridge-style ambush from the law. They reconnect with their estranged father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), and all three go on a killing spree with Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) on their tail.
Then they hide out with Captain Spaulding’s pimp buddy (Ken Foree) at his whorehouse, in case the sex-and-violence connection hadn’t been sufficiently hammered into our heads, until the climactic, slow-motion shootout, edited to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s seemingly eternal “Freebird.”
For all its pretenses regarding authentic details and mood, “The Devil’s Rejects” is lazy. Every other word is four-letter. Victims are tortured and blood is shed. All the women are whores, treated like whores or just dress like whores.
That’s not especially daring or offensive. That’s just Zombie – the heavy-metal star turned writer-director – displaying a lack of effort.
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