Reviewbr> "She is a carnivore, a desecrator of human flesh. But she comes with a beautiful and familiar face, to confuse and deceive her victims." - Col Klaus Meyer
Two Kiwi Commandos, Captain Ben Grogan and Sergeant Joe Tane, land on a German occupied Channel Island with the intent being to destroy a gun emplacement on the eve of the D-Day landings. They quickly find out there's something a lot more darker than the Nazi war machine in the bunker complex on the Island. Seems the SS have been attempting to find an occult solution to gaining victory over the Allies
Naturally things haven't gone according to plan with SS Officer Col Klaus Meyer the sole survivor after a Demon is raised. Are we facing a Pandora situation or can Ben Grogan with the occult expert Meyer put the demon back in the bottle, and can I mix any more metaphors? Let's hit the beaches and see what dark forces await us in this movie.
There's a tradition within the dark genre of mixing horror tropes with Nazi trappings, uniquely named Naziplotation. Hence movies like the recent Iron Sky, Outpost, and Hellboy, not to mention zombie mixes like Dead Snow, keeping all bases loaded for the home team. The Devil's Rock works in the same end of town with demonic forces caused by a Nazi occult experiment that has gone totally wrong. On the bright side of the Third Reich we get the full demonic overtures mixed in with a Nazi aesthetic that delivers a dark and brooding movie that'll have you goose stepping in your lounge room. Who doesn't like some Nazi wall decorations with demonic throw cushions?
Director Paul Campion starts his movie off in exemplary fashion, the opening salvo wouldn't be amiss in a full on war movie, not that I'm about to enlist in the marines or anything. Two blokes are canoeing to a secluded beach with only moonlight to guide them. We're talking full on second war world military equipment, stein machine guns etc, and the sort of tension you would expect from a war movie involving John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, (hey "Where Kiwis Dare" yo, sometimes I crack even myself up). Things come to head on the beach with one of those war movie tropes that make you wonder if you shouldn't be dialling into a bit more of the genre, but that's not important right now. Campion nails the opening scene, leaving me hanging, at any moment I expected things to erupt into grenade explosions and mass ammunition expenditure.
It's when we get moving toward the bunker that dripped blood that the horror starts to kick into gear reminding us that we're here for the dark elements and not the going over the top and storming the machine gun nests that things looked to be heading towards. Our Commando duo are confronted with gunfire, screams, and all manner of unsavoury sounding noises, Campion immediately proves he knows how horror works, we don't get to see what's going down we just hear the noises.
The middle block of The Devil's Rock is perhaps the most alarming demonstration of what horror can do with things kept off stage since The Exorcist toyed with audiences while Captain Howdy fired up his afterburners. We hear plenty of demonic muttering from behind closed doors, find out feeding time involves human flesh, and discover Paul Campion is the only one left alive in a carnal house after the successful summoning of dark forces by the Nazis. As I keep telling people, the genre is all about being careful what you wish for and not having sleep overs with Ouija boards as the central attraction.
I'm a big fan of psychological horror and that's what Campion has happening in between the gore and viscera day care center that rocks out the middle third of the movie. The movie jives through various psychological attacks on Ben Grogan that should have shivers running down your spine. To be honest this movie is more your demonic waltz rather than gore splattered torture chambers.
To be honest I was slightly confused by the ending of the movie, something to do with a key, but it could have been due to the poor visuals I was getting off the equipment I was using to view the movie. Considering Paul Campion is a Weta Studio alumni I would have expected far more from the closing shot, a tad on the needed some work side of the Ferris wheel.
Considering there are only four characters in the movie Director Campion relies heavily on dialogue to move things along. This is necessary as there's a whole bunch of exposition that needs to be delivered by our resident SS Colonel. Surprisingly the answers the Colonel has for sending the big bad back to the pit will not necessarily form the focus. So if dialogue ideas heavy movies aren't your thing then this may not be the movie for you.
There's a slight hint of T&A, not enough to have the moral majority concerned, and besides the pretty gory backgrounds there's not a lot of the wet stuff to have gorehounds clawing their way to the disc, most bad things happen off screen - beheadings don't count right?
Craig Hall (Captain Ben Grogan) and Matthew Sunderland (Col Klaus Meyer) played well off each other as the couple thrown together via facing a common enemy. Gina Varela (Helena) managed to pull off sexy as well as menacing, someone to keep an eye on in the future.
With a score that features your Gregorian style chants mixed in with some heavy orchestral movements, Campion has the tension up on high, the natural surrounds of the bunker provide the atmosphere and we're almost catching up with a stage play. I was rocking out to the whole heavy vibe going down, got a demonic movie that went beyond what I expected, and bopped to an out and out freaking great horror flick. The period props were effective and the script was mighty fine, say hello to a very solid Independent horror flick. If you like the dark genre serious and fill of dark intent then The Devil's Rock will certainly fit the bill. Full recommendation kids, lap this one up for some Nazi occult play time.
The Devil's Rock is available in all markets so should be close to hand for anyone reading. Pretty much all online outlets will carry the title as well, so you are more than covered.