BHE: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The Devil’s Rejects (2005), rated R, watched on Netflix

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0395584/mediaviewer/rm27888896The murderous, backwoods Firefly family take to the road to escape a vengeful police force which is not afraid of being as ruthless as their target.” IMDB synopsis

  • IMDB 6.9/10
  • Metacritic 53/100
  • Rotten Tomatoes 53% critics, 78% audience
  • Solee 4.5/5
  • Mikey 4/5
  • Colin 2/5
  • Amy 3.5/5

WARNING: THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS!

Solee: Today, we’re lucky enough to have two guest reviewers! Amy and Colin joined us in watching The Devil’s Rejects (which we’ve had in the plans since we watched Rob Zombie’s first movie, House of 1000 Corpses last year) and are going to let us know what they thought of it. They have not seen House of 1000 Corpses, however. Did you guys think that affected the way you watched this film?

Amy: I don’t feel like missing the first movie impacted the second one much except missing the callbacks, or maybe some of the background detail callbacks (don’t know if there were any) but the background did have a lot of fun details that made it worth paying attention to.  

Colin: Unless House of 1000 Corpses talks about how the saintly God-fearing Firefly family turned into the ahem “protagonists”, there’s probably no reason to watch the first one.

Solee: NO! SOOoooo wrong. The first one is the best horror film ever made! It does not, however, give us any further insight into this family and why they are the way they are. Which is one of the things I liked most about them. They’re just murderous. Don’t judge.

Mikey: Why would you judge? I feel like there are lots of reasons to watch the first one, and I think the second one doesn’t give you an idea of what they are. It’s an entirely different experience all over the place.

Solee: The consistent element that I get from both movies, which I believe comes from Rob Zombie’s unique outlook on life, is that the movie is very clear on right and wrong. There’s no attempt to justify what this people are doing … they are horrible people … but there is also no shying away from evil. It’s just there. Mr. Zombie is not afraid to tell a story about horrible people doing horrible things.

Amy: It didn’t feel clear on right and wrong to me. Both the family and the Sheriff were truly twisted people that left me confused on who the protagonists and antagonists are.  Maybe the whole movie was antagonists.

Colin: Looking at what “right” and “wrong” are in this movie looks to be a futile endeavor. Like Solee said, awful people doing awful things may be the entire point of this movie. I guess horror exploitation films really aren’t my bag.

Mikey: There were a lot of really uncomfortable scenes along those lines. Like I’ve seen lots of killers who brutally kill their victims, or even torture them in a traditional sense (stabbing, burning, all the good stuff). But these guys are just truly sadistic, and live to make the victims… I don’t know, suffer is one word. Traumatized them. And us.

Solee: It was definitely traumatic to watch. Perhaps a more accurate way to say what I was trying to say is that Rob Zombie isn’t afraid to make a movie where the “protagonists” plot-wise are still very much antagonists according to the norms of society. Neither of his movies has a hero. Nobody saves the day.

Amy: Perhaps the message was about family? Even though the family was horrible murderous people (and I hesitate to call them people) they had a very strong family bond and supported each other.

Colin: I disagree that there wasn’t a hero that saved the day. Let’s talk for a moment about Deputy Dobson. He followed instructions to finally save the day. The sheriff told him that “dying isn’t an option.” Well, guess what?! He didn’t die. He lived to save the day at the end of the movie. He was probably my favorite character.

Mikey: What’s interesting is that you’re talking truth, and yet the movie didn’t feel like he saved the day. More of a sad farewell to our “heroes”. The movie definitely was of the opinion that the Firefly family was… I won’t say goodguys, but the people to root for. I think. I did have a hard time towards the end watching the sheriff vs. the family and going “wait, what am I supposed to be rooting for right now?”

Solee: It was difficult, and as Colin was pointing out there WAS a hero, I realized just how invested in this family of killers I got. Which is … disturbing. While I abhor everything they did and definitely believe they needed to be stopped, I did NOT have trouble during the family vs sheriff scenes. The sheriff was just as bad as them. He didn’t just want to stop them, he wanted to torture them. He wanted to inflict trauma on other human beings. He just did it under a fake veneer of “cop”. He lied to himself and pretended that it was a noble cause while the family accepts who they are and don’t pretend to be anything better than they are.

Colin: That’s kind of the question I think Rob Zombie might make us look at and then try to answer: What is the purpose of “law and order” if sometimes the people we entrust to enforce our laws choose to go haywire?

Solee: Seems like a question that has a lot of relevance in today’s political environment.

Colin: Rob Zombie is prescient! NostroZombus

Solee: One other thing that relates to this topic. In writing they say “write your villains like they are the heroes of their own story.” This is a PERFECT example of that.

Amy: Disturbing and questionable plot aside, there were some great aspects to the movie. It had a full array of memorable one liners, brilliant transitions, and a good use of soundtrack.

Mikey: There were a ton of really funny lines. I would love to quote them, but alas, this movie held the world record (according to some estimates) for most F-Bombs in a single movie for a while.

Solee: “I love famous people … they’re so much better than the real thing.” That was my favorite line. I really liked the way some of the scenes were broken up by still shots. It was like looking at the scrapbook pages they would eventually make out of that event.

Colin: Speaking of memorable quotes, are we going to talk about the chicken salesman?

Mikey: Hmm, he might be tough to talk about in a family setting. But that was probably the scene that had the whole room laughing the hardest. Which leads to a pretty vital question: Who was everybody’s favorite character? I wish mine was Captain Spaulding, because I loved him so much in the first movie, but he really lost a lot of his charm this time around. He just wasn’t having as much fun. I think Otis was my favorite – the maniacal serial killer who is not remotely maniacal. Just a cool dude.

Solee: Cool might be stretching it a little, given where he was and who he was with at the beginning of the movie, but Otis was also my favorite. He had this air of an older brother who is always having to give in to his spoiled little sister and at the end was definitely all about sticking together as a family to the bitter end. He’s a terrible human being, but he had some very human qualities.

Mikey: Well, it’s the acting choices – none of that gravelly creepy monster voice, just talking in a banal way about how he’s gonna murder ya’ll.

Amy: I don’t think I have a favorite character.  It was hard to like anyone in the movie.  Maybe the nurse who tries to help the girl on the road.  She was the best human in the show.  

Colin: Yeah, I like movies that have clear cut good guys. Sometimes I like to think and be rewarded for thinking long about a movie…but horror movies sometimes are just about saving the day and stopping the bad guys. Escapism at its finest!

Mikey: Oh, I feel like horror movies are rarely about saving the day. Usually they end very badly for the heroes. But it’s still fun escapism!

Amy: I actually prefer grey areas with black and white, good and bad, being subjective. I just found it hard to be charmed or enamored by any of the characters of this movie.  

Mikey: It is interesting to note that this is a movie that doesn’t have a lot of grey area… it’s all very black and black.

Solee: I think that might be what makes Rob Zombie’s movies stand out to me. There’s no attempt to justify the movie. There’s no effort to make the watcher feel better about wanting to watch a horror film. If we’re really honest, watching horror is about watching bad things happen to people and most horror films wrap it up in a “save the day” scenario to make us feel less like we’re watching snuff films. This movie makes no such attempt. It WANTS you to feel uncomfortable and a little bad about what you’ve chosen to watch.

Mikey: I definitely felt uncomfortable quite a bit more than I did in 1000 Corpses, which was more of a traditional slasher movie – bunch of college kids out on a trip get into trouble and get murdered. This was much more… out there? Just these are crazy people, so who knows when they’re going to turn even darker than right now. Unpredictable.

Colin: It’s true, every murder in this movie seemed…well, they were never done as a punchline. The family went out of their way to show that they are bad people and that tone really made me want to cover my eyes.

Solee: Can I just mention quickly that I was super weirded out by how much the guy playing Otis reminded me of Will Forte. It added an extra surreal layer to all of his scenes for me.

Mikey: You can mention it if I can mention that Brian Posehn showed up out of the blue! No real layer added there, just fun.

Solee: That was fun, especially since we’re rewatching Mr. Show now. Amy? Colin? Any odd tidbits to add? Little things that stuck out?

Colin: The music was spot on. Every scene that had a major song playing was great! Even though it was “top 40…”

Mikey: Oh yes, the music is well worthy of mention. No big surprise from a rock star director, but really did great things to many scenes.

Solee: I think we lost Amy!

Amy:  I’m here.  I was just thinking more about some of the transitions. Like the coffee one. And the screaming one. And the billboard in the background when they first go on the run.  

Solee: There was a definite skill in the attention to the fine details of this movie. So, the timer has gone off, which means it’s time for each of us to rate the movie on a scale of 0-5 (0 being the worst, 5 being the best). Who’s first?

Mikey: But to be clear, it’s a 1-5 scale. Zero is for GOOD REASONS ONLY.

Guests first, of course.

Amy: I’d give it a 3.5.  Slightly better than average but has a few things holding it back from greatness.

Colin: There are many things holding this movie from greatness. I’m giving it a 2 out of 5, not because it was a bad horror flick, which it was. Good horror should make you uncomfortable and afraid, but I’m giving it a score of 2 simply because the violence seemed to done just for shock value. Where there was great & funny moments, they were overshadowed by the sheer brutality. Not my kind of horror.

Mikey: Well, let’s save the highest rating for last and let me go now! I did find the movie funny a lot of the time, and the skill and technique employed in creating the visuals was undeniable, so it’s really well done. But I just couldn’t really get into the idea of rooting for badguys, who are fighting against badguys, with the help of badguy friends. It just needed some sort of counterbalance, and the plot didn’t click with me most likely because of that. However, I really liked so much of how it was made. In the end though, it’s not as good as House of 1000 Corpses. It’s not even in the same league. It is a 4 out of 5.

Solee: I fully understand each of your scores. This is definitely not your average horror movie and it’s not going to work for everyone. I’d go so far as to say it’s not going to work for MOST. That being said, it worked for me. I loved the acting. I thought it was skillfully done to a level unmatched by many horror movies. The soundtrack was both enjoyable AND perfect for the scenes. I agree that it wasn’t as good as House of 1000 Corpses, but I think that’s because they tried to commercialize this one a bit. It’s been tamed and that is a damn shame. I give this movie a 4.5 out of 5 anyway. I hope that doesn’t make anyone worry about my sanity! I’m not plotting to kill anyone, I swear.

Colin: “tame” lol

Mikey: Yeah, this is the tame commercialized version, like the My Little Pony equivalent. So Amy and Colin, don’t you wanna see House of 1000 Corpses NOW?

Solee: They probably won’t ever trust us to chose a movie for them again.

Mikey: That’s okay, because tomorrow we’re letting them choose a movie for us – we’ll be watching Train To Busan (2016), on Colin’s recommendation. So blame him.

Colin: gasp I never!

Solee: Thanks for being part of our conversation, guys! It was fun to hear your take on things.

Amy: Thanks for inviting us. It was a good time.

(We watched Train to Busan on Netflix in case you want to see it before tomorrow’s review!)

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4 thoughts on “BHE: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

    • I don’t know that I get it either, to be honest.
      On a cognitive level, I am pretty appalled by horror movies. But there’s a part of me that both enjoys the adrenaline rush that comes from being shocked/scared. And there’s another part of me that finds a sick pleasure in the fact that it’s not ME suffering those terrible things. Often there’s a sense of superiority. “*I* would never do something that dumb!” And in my favorite scary movies, there’s an element of the psychological, which has always fascinated me. I love stories where we see the cause and effect of emotional scarring. I don’t believe in ghosts or aliens or demons, so it’s very easy for me to place all those movies in the “totally make-believe” section of my brain.
      I totally understand your concern/confusion, and I can’t really justify my enjoyment. I do enjoy it in October, though. The rest of the year, I don’t watch much horror, although I do binge watch lots of criminal and courtroom dramas, which are basically the same thing: watching bad things happen to people.

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  1. Well, I appreciate that honesty.
    I’m actually surprised that as I read your reply, I agree with/relate to pretty much all of it. I like the rush of being scared, I really love things that examine human psychology and things that affect it, and since I don’t believe in the entities you mentioned either, they go in the “make believe” part of my brain. Never thought about the superiority aspect, though. To add onto the pile, I don’t even mind watching bad things happen to people who deserve it! So I enjoy “thriller” books & movies.
    It’s really the gratuitousness and glorification of violence, and gore shown just for shock value, that I object to. In horror, many innocent people die gruesome deaths before the evil one finally gets its due (if it does), and it seems the point is just to watch the gruesomeness happen.

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