A hardcore horror film that will appall as much as entertain, The Devil's Rejects is both impressive and repugnant. It's impressive in that it meets its apparent aim: to unsettle by being as brutally sadistic as possible. It's questionable, though, whether that aim has any value and whether a film that wants to make the serial-killing, sexually violent Firefly family (from director Rob Zombie's House Of 1000 Corpses) into folk heroes deserves your attention.
Whatever your opinion of its morality, The Devil's Rejects does boast some vivid action and strong performances. Sid Haig is troubling and charismatic as clown-faced killer Captain Spaulding and Sheri Moon Zombie (the director's wife) has a talent which suggests she'd do well in more worthy material (and an enthusiasm which suggests she wouldn't particularly want to). The best turn, though, is from William Forsythe as the Lord's "righteous sword of vengeance", Sheriff Wydell, hunting down the Fireflys.
"BOND-VILLAIN LEVELS OF IDIOCY"
All swagger and snarl and merciless anger, his character is also an interesting barometer for how you view the film: do you find his vigilante tactics appalling or fully justified? And if you root for him - however ugly his actions get - what does that say about you? Unfortunately this opportunity to challenge the audience is ducked in the final 20 minutes, which requires Wydell to show Bond-villain levels of idiocy and relies on lazy convenience before descending into a freeze-frame finale which makes Easy Rider's petulant, empty posturing appear desperately profound.