The Devil's Rejects is not always an easy film to watch. It has a genuine savagery that makes recent films such as Hostel or Saw II, non spectacular though they were, appear rather tame.
I think part of the reason the film is such uncomfortable viewing is through Rob Zombie's creation of a strong sense of ambiguity as to who we are supposed to sympathise with- who are the antagonists and the protagonists? Initially things seem quite clean cut- psychopathic killers= evil, Sheriff on a vigilante mission = good, but then the lines blur. The Sheriff turns nasty, yet we the audience take joy in his sadism- are we as bad as these killers? And at the same time we the audience feel flashes of sympathy for the killers too- through glimpses of their own, warped domestic bliss. This is interesting and
one that gets under your skin and disturbs.
I have to mention the humour also- which is also a nice contrast to darkness, though some of the humour is very close to the edge- you DO need those moments of light relief, to prevent the proceedings becoming completely grimy and depressing.
The only main downside of this film is it does at times feel overly long, almost deliberately drawn out,and that can distract from the intensity of things.
Personally this film marks a huge improvement for Rob Zombie after the debacle that was House Of 1000 Corpses, a masturbatory fan boy effort which had an okay build up but quickly descended into cartoony drivel. With The Devil's Rejects Rob Zombie seems to have shifted focus from being a kid with a film camera and a budget, and shifted focus on telling a story, and making the audience FEEL something, and he actually does a pretty good job of it too.
Special mention has to go to Sheri Moon. A real delight to watch. I can't help but smile when I see her on screen- I wouldn't be at all surprised if she finds herself with a huge gay following. A lovely mixture of sassiness, innocence and an edge of something slightly darker. I like her a lot- well at least when she's not making racist playground chants fashionable again.
I'm actually excited now about Zombie's remake/ reinvention/ prequel of Halloween. Okay so the term "remake/ reinvention/ prequel" fills me with an underlying sense of dread, but I'm going to breathe out and try trust Rob Zombie on this one. If nothing else, I know it'll be anything but bland.