The last time I saw a film from New Zealand was when I watched “Black Sheep”, which was, well, very different and quite original in its own right. So I chose to check out director Paul Campion’s “The Devil’s Rock”. The Dvd cover features a blood soaked woman in Nazi clothes which would give anyone the impressive that this was an exploitive cheap B-movie which would be so much further than the truth. I really have no idea why American distributors would misrepresent a film (as with the U.S. release of “Infernal Affairs”) rather than stick to its original foreign poster-cover. “The Devil’s Rock” is an intelligent horror film that has a lot of finesse and relies on its characters to drive its simple plot. Oh, horror fans would love this film.
1944, on the eve of the allied invasion on Normandy, commandos are sent out to create distractions in other areas to mislead the Nazis. A pair from New Zealand who had enlisted in the British forces, Captain Ben Gorgan (Craig Hall) and Sgt. Joe Tane (Karlos Drinkwater) make their way from shore through landmines. Their mission is one of sabotage, but once the two come across screams from a German bunker, the two sets the mission aside as they set out to investigate. What they find is something quite deplorable and what lies in the bunker may be closer to hell than on this earth. What is the secret of the remaining German in the bunker, Colonel Klaus Meyer (Matthew Sunderland) and a beautiful woman (sexy Gina Varela) chained in iron?
History had taught us about Hitler’s obsession with the occult as well as objects that dabble in Black Magic. There were rumors that the Nazi war machine had found the “Spear of Destiny“ and that Hitler himself had created a division of his SS to search for occult books that can summon demonic forces. “The Devil’s Rock” takes advantage of this historical fact and rumors as the viewer is taken into a story just how the Germans did really come close to summoning dark forces against the allies. It is a pretty clear cut story if you really think about it, but what really worked well in the film is the manner as to how it was able to structure itself around its two main characters to tell its story.
Director Paul Campion did not try to conceal that this film had a modest budget and limited resources. I mean, you can just see that its shortage of resources could have easily pushed the direction into a senseless display of mayhem and bloodletting, but Campion is smarter than that. Campion respects his audience and he practices a sense of restraint in the display of blood and gore. Most of the marvelous, horrific blood and gore effects are on display after the act of such violence. Don’t get me wrong, the film is very bloody and gory but the brutality of its violence are barely seen on camera. It made the horrific images much more effective in my view, as we see the aftermath of such a scene. Campion never becomes overzealous, and he keeps things simple, and isolates the story within the confines of two rooms with a small scene in the beach to get things going. This way, the viewer becomes focused in the film’s plot rather than the visuals and action, and this was a very good move.
The script which was co-written by Campion instead allows for dialogue and interaction to drive the thrilling elements of the film. The two main characters in the film are played by Craig Hall and Matthew Sunderland, and the two formed an excellent chemistry to flesh out the story and the dimensions of their characters. Gorgan and Meyer are both intelligent soldiers and they both practice a sense of caution when dealing with each other. They distrust one another with several ways, and yet they feel that they are bound by fate to one another. A soldier from the allied forces and a Nazi colonel brings a lot of tension to the fold, Campion was able to bring them together convincingly in such a scheme that made the two work. The acting in the film was very good but I have to admit that Gina Varela stole the show as the film’s victim/villainess in the film. Her efforts in her dual roles are remarkable and she is so sexy even when she doesn’t show a lot of skin. The make up effects aid in her role, as she becomes something both scary and enticing at the same time. The film only has 5 characters in the film when you count the puking Nazi soldier and Campion utilizes everything to their maximum potential.
“The Devil’s Rock” is one subtle, powerful horror movie that it earns a high recommendation from me. It is different, original in its own way, and it is clever enough to be unpredictable at the areas that really counts. More atmosphere and character development in the place of a more bombastic display violence, blood and gore in a low budget film is truly incredible. But for gore fans, the film also has enough to satisfy the gorehound in you.
“Do demons sleep, colonel?” A few years back – perchance when all of the brutal SAW films and pale imitators emerged – horror flicks seemed to take a decidedly nihilistic diversion. Specifically, storytelling grew a bit lazy, often times reducing characters to impulse-driven sadists or masochists. Maybe players had a puzzle to solve or some bizarre riddle to answer in order to save themselves, but, visually, the films became nothing more … more
Admittedly this film was a pleasant surprise. I mean, it was so refreshing to see a horror film that relies on storytelling and character interaction to drive its momentum. The film never becomes cheap and yet, engaging and suspenseful. Nazis, demons...some blood and gore.....this film is a winner. Read Full Review Here.