The Devil's Rock

The Devil's Rock

(2011)

Described as "Saw with Swastikas" by horror site Shocktillyoudrop, this New Zealand made World War II horror movie follows two Kiwi commandos (Craig Hall and Karlos Drinkwater) in Normandy who discover a Nazi plot to unleash demonic forces. Special effects handled by Weta Workshop.... More

On mission on the eve of D-Day, the pair are separated and Captain Ben Grogan (Hall) discovers a hidden bunker. Once inside he encounters more than he bargained for: a scene of carnage where only a mysterious Nazi (Matthew Sunderland, Out of the Blue) and a beutiful, devilish captive (Gina Varela, Xena) remain alive.

This is Brit-Kiwi director Paul Campion's feature debut, having previously worked in visual effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sin City, Clash of the Titans and others.Hide

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Flicks Review

Nazis and the occult usually make for a fascinating combination, as Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Keep attest. The problem with The Devil’s Rock is that it doesn’t deliver either the suspense of a war film or the scares of a horror, despite doing its best to inhabit the costumes, props and settings of those genres. The film doesn’t open strongly, with two Kiwi commandos landing somewhere on the Channel Islands that looks more like a combination of a North Shore beach and the garden down the back of my next door neighbour’s place.... More

The mood’s not quite right either, but I was still on the filmmaker’s side and suspending judgment while I hung out for some freaky occult business. Sadly, The Devil’s Rock ends up with two dudes in a room for half the movie talking about scary stuff while not much of it actually happens. Yes, there are piles of limbs scattered around, reminiscent of the closing sequences of Jacob’s Ladder, but it feels like going to see an amateur theatre production at Spookers.

The film is hampered further by demonological plot developments that constantly require explanation, and when the film ends it is with hardly a surprise along the way, except perhaps the decision for its Nazi officer to not have a German accent.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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Given that New Zealand is such a small film market, at least in comparison with the wealth of content cinemas have available to them from abroad, the number of homegrown films which see a wide release is unfortunately small. It shouldn't be a reflection on the quality of local film, just simply the reality of existing in a business so completely dominated by Hollywood. Which is why it's so disappointing when one of the precious few slots allocated to NZ films is filled by something like The... More Devil's Rock, a derivative, achingly slow horror masquerading as revisionist history. The concept is not essentially a bad one, yet it's handled in such a clumsy fashion that it makes one despair for the state of our national cinema if this is among the best that our filmmakers can do.

Playing out on an understandably small scale, The Devil's Rock runs with the oft speculated idea that during World War II, Nazis were researching and conducting experiments that dabbled in the occult, and in this case have summoned a demon to a small, uninhabited island in the English Channel. There's potentially interesting ideas here, but director Paul Campion's attempts to build the suspense necessary for a film of this type reduce the pacing to a crawl, and what should be creepy and unsettling ultimately ends up being painfully boring. The performances don't do the film any favours either, with particularly disappointing work from Matthew Sunderland (Out of the Blue), whose baffling attempt at an accent leads to much confusion about who is who, and what his motivation is. Before descending completely into the cheap Exorcist knock-off that it threatens to become, The Devil's Rock admittedly has an unexpected and welcome twist, although it's best not to consider the implications of what the film is suggesting in any kind of historical sense. The most successful New Zealand films tend to stick to well defined and culturally specific stories, but sadly, in trying to branch out into genre filmmaking, The Devil's Rock fails to deliver anything more than cheap, direct-to-video level mediocrity.

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Showing off the amazing resourcefulness of the Wellington film industry, shot on a lean budget yet with the production value of a major studio release. The thing that impressed me most about this film was the suspense it created - I was actually gripping my seat really tightly in the theatre.


The Press Reviews

56% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • By keeping the action confined to the tunnels and cells of the blockhouse, Campion creates a claustrophobic setting... Full Review

  • The action unfolds inside the gloomy lair in an attempt to deliver claustrophobic intensity... Full Review

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