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I remember seeing the original trailer for The Devil’s Rejects in the movie theater. At the time, I thought it had so much potential (which it does). But Rob Zombie, the film’s writer and director, didn’t go all out. Yes, he has people shot, stapled, axed, and killed in a multitude of ways. However, his plot runs thin after a while: the plotline “Bad people killing decent folk” extends only so far. One can argue that killing (and the murderous Firefly family) is not the main focus of the plot because the film’s central character is the sheriff who exacts his revenge. However, it’s not, for if the movie was about the sheriff, we would not be watching the same ending to the story.

We’ve seen it all before. Bloodshed is nothing knew, thanks to the slew of films introduced to us by the “Splat Pack,” the new group of directors including Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, James Wan, and others who specialize in gore-flicks. At one point after seeing so much brutality, the audience finds such heedless use of violence boring. I was not left shaken (or stirred, for that matter) by the cruelty in this movie. It’s a real shame that it’s the new “thing,” it’s now posh for a horror movie nowadays to out-gore its predecessor. (Kind of an ego-trip when you think about it.)  While trying to scare the audience’s pants off with blood and organs and body parts, audiences grow more comfortable with gore, and it’s harder to reach a new “high,” so to speak. Horror directors are doing themselves, and their audiences, a disservice by focusing too much on gore, for if they concentrated more on political and social themes (or somehow making the audiences think a little more), audiences will never grow tired of directors topping each other’s filmography through intellectual stimulation.

It’s obvious Zombie has talent: the exhilarating (and even emotional) “Freebird” sequence proves it. If he was a little more interested (aesthetically) in this movie, I would have been fine with it. I like something a little extra with my horror. Think Videodrome: yes, there’s blood and guts (and lots of it), but it’s all for a purpose and toward a greater good.

*For more on this “torture porn” trend, check out Jim Emerson’s great post at his Scanners blog.


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