The trouble with films about the devil or one of his minions is there comes a point where some members the audience will just throw their hands up in the air and claim the whole venture ridiculous. I presume this is because modern viewers can’t take the whole red skin, tail and horns thing seriously. This certainly happened during The Devil’s Rock when, about half way through as a clovened one showed up, my friend Leo shouted out “oh, this is going to be a silly film, isn’t it?” and then promptly lost interest in the whole affair.
That’s a shame because if you do like devils (and I love them, but not in a weird, sexy way) then you’ll find that The Devil’s Rock is a cracking little movie.
Two Kiwi Allied commandos are sent to one of the smaller Nazi occupied Channel Islands to cause some destructive mayhem, distracting their enemies from the impending D-Day plans. However when our heroes arrive at the German’s barricade they find most of them dead and can hear a woman’s cries for help… Now if they had have watched The Keep they would have known those pesky Nazis were up to no good. They can’t be left alone for five minutes without conjuring up some supernatural deity or another.
After the opening segment of the movie involving some tense beach-plus-mine action and some very long, dark corridors, the story essentially boils down to just two rooms and three characters: one of the commandos, a Nazi officer (passionately and wildly played by Matthew Sunderland) and the chained up woman, Gina Varela. It is a wonderfully economical film, showing how to make a great tale on a tight budget if you set yourself up with strict limitations. This is helped in no end by the script which has some good surprises and a beating heart too, even if it does require Sunderland to go on a number of National Socialist tirades. Mind you, the Nazis loved a good tirade at the best of times so maybe that’s just realism for you.
Another bonus the film has are some really terrific make-up effects. As this is a New Zealand production I presume some folks from Weta got their hands dirty, and what a job they did. The demon make-up is some of the best since Tim Curry got all horney in Legend. Plus there’s a good splattering of blood and guts lying about, which is nice.
Past all the effects and Nazi shouting, what The Devil’s Rock is essentially about is the battle of good-verses-evil, like all stories about the Devil should be, and what World War Two was about also. On a smaller scale, and you don’t get much smaller scale than this, the film is about the battle over a good man’s soul and whether it can be tempted and corrupted, or if he can put the devil behind him. Okay so some of you out there might find the whole thing a bit silly, but these are universal themes people. Give it a go.