I have always, and still do appreciate Rob Zombie as an artistic genius, I expected that when going to see The Devil’s Rejects, and I was not let down. What Rob Zombie has done is give us one of the best portrayals of evil ever presented on screen. I am reminded of an interview I did with author Ted Dekker regarding the painting of evil, and the need to paint evil with as dark a brush as possible. Zombie paints it with as much darkness as is humanly possible. What we have as a result is a splattering of blood and evil along the way that is so dark that I personally found myself having difficulty watching what was portrayed before my very eyes.
If portraying evil for the sake of being evil was the intent, this movie would be a waste of time, but Zombie in his brilliance does something, as I have never seen done before. He presents a story and concept where we long for justice for those who are the incarnate of evil, and yet, we find ourselves eventually caring for those very individuals. We are also presented not only with the hypocrisy, but also the hope that is available through, Christianity. I must say now, and I hope Rob Zombie sees this review at some point, but if I could interview anyone on the planet, I would like to talk to Zombie about his views on various subjects. Why for example does one who has a “perceived” notion and hatred of Christianity, portray it in such a thought provoking and intelligent way? What are his views on spirituality? In addition, there would be many other questions. To be honest, this man and his genius intrigue me tremendously.
This story carries on after the story line of House of 1,000 Corpses. It is essentially the same characters and a continuation of that story. Where House of 1,000 Corpses lacked and showed little hope, this movie is thought provoking and brings to light several components to reflect upon whether one be a Christian or not.
Rob Zombie shows his brilliance as a filmmaker in this film. He reminds me as a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez. I know that sounds like a crazy mix but his brilliance with edits, shocking story telling, and effect is along these lines. He also does a brilliant job at using such a horrifying story to give such a brilliant artistic presentation. From his various stylizations in this film, to the shocking character development I was enthralled.
The story reminds me of a great Christian author that I always loved, Flannery O’Conner, and specifically the story A Good Man is Hard to Find. What O’Conner accomplishes in that story is to present a side of evil that is truly evil. It has the mixture of what is good and evil and the conflict is developed for the reader. In this case, Zombie does the same for the viewer of the movie. I can’t help but think that if Flannery O’Conner were still alive that she would stand and applaud Zombie’s effort.
We see evil as truly being evil, but we also see the potential of good among those that are evil, and in a strange sort of way, we find ourselves caring for those that are evil. This is a lesson that many who present themselves as Christian could learn from. While we are often quick to judge the one we call Christ, Jesus Christ illustrated this perfectly, especially in his death on the cross and his own willingness to ask for forgiveness who were killing him.
I won’t go into much detail because I don’t like spoiler reviews, but I will say that the contrast between the Devil’s Rejects, and one that is “called by God” is brilliantly portrayed in this movie. It is while the one that is “called by God,” is executing vengeance that we find ourselves caring for the ones who are in essence evil. This creates a great conflict within the viewer. What is our role, our responsibility to those that we perceive as being evil? What is the role of the one called by God? When does one called by God, take the concept of vengeance into their own hands as opposed to leaving it in the hands of God? What is the difference between vengeance and justice? Zombie portrays this conflict amazingly well, especially from one who is perceived by many as being the “anti Christ” incarnate.
Zombie also portrays the conflict beautifully between those called by Christ, and those who are called by Satan. All through the movie, just as in House of 1,000 Corpses, we see Christianity in the background and playing a vital part to the story. Here even more so than in House of 1,000 Corpses. There is an example of Zombie’s brilliance here in one incredible scene prior to a crucifixion scene. We see a quick edit to a image of Jesus Christ on a cross being crucified. The image is on the screen for several seconds intending to catch the attention of the audience member, and thus causing us to reflect about what it is that Zombie is trying to portray. That image, and what follows is still stuck in my head some two weeks after seeing the movie. I have had to reflect for that long on the movie and not since Jacob’s Ladder and/or Mystic River have I reflected on a movie as much. For those that don’t know, those are two very respectable movies that have garnered the respect of many in the movie going audiences. Zombie’s film, in my opinion needs to have that much respect because it is that good.
Now before being condemned to Hell by many who read this review, I must say that not in a long time have I had a movie open up doors for spiritual discussion as has this movie. My son in law attended the movie with me, and before we left the theater, I had two individuals, one being the manager of the theater come and talk to me about the movie. They asked specific questions about spiritual issues, and were intrigued by the fact that I was a pastor. One individual stated that they were the child of a pastor and that the movie had gotten them to think about spiritual things. They even stated that their father had been talking to them about Alice Cooper and the journey that he has been on. My son in law was amazed at how individuals had come up and asked me about the movie and at how easy it was to open up a discussion about good and evil, forgiveness, love and, even love and caring for individuals who are evil. Zombie paints a picture that makes that easy to do, and my hope is that individuals can look beyond the gore, nudity, language and more presented in this movie and be able to discuss the serious questions this movie addresses. If they can, they will engage themselves in one of the most significant spiritual discussions they could ever engage themselves in.
On a scale of 1-10, let the hate mail begin, while it may not be for everyone, you cannot deny the brilliance of this movie. I give a very enthusiastic perfect 10. By the way, Rob Zombie, I would still love to do that interview.