After a long wait and much hype, Rob Zombie’s belated sequel to The Devil’s Rejects, 3 From Hell, is out. Despite what looked like a pretty definitive conclusion to The Firefly Clan’s saga, Zombie announced a belated sequel two years ago. Perhaps a sequel isn’t that surprising given that most critics and fans still hail The Devil’s Rejects as Zombie’s best movie. His most recent effort, 31, underwhelmed. So it makes sense to re-visit what worked previously. This also wouldn’t be the first time dead horror icons have been resurrected for a sequel. And don’t forget, Zombie did originally include supernatural elements in House of 1000 Corpses. Are they called ‘The Devil’s Reject’s’ for a reason? Did Hell literally spit the Firefly Family out?
Following a bloody shootout with police, ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ inexplicably survive their mortal wounds. A cult following surrounds the trio’s trial, which ends with the Firefly’s on death row. But prison walls can only the depraved trio for so long. Several years later, half-brother, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane breaks Otis Driftwood out, setting in motion a bloody trek across the Mexican border.
3 From Hell Runs Out of Ideas Fast
At about the halfway point of 3 From Hell, Richard Brake’s WF Coltrane asks, ‘So what do we do now’? A bored looking Bill Moseley, playing Otis Driftwood for the third time, responds, ‘Truthfully, I don’t know’. And that about sums up this sequel. In The Devil’s Rejects, Zombie subverted expectations by slowly tricking the audience into sympathizing with the depraved Firefly clan. This time around, Zombie, who clearly loves these characters, overestimates their appeal. As a result, 3 From Hell treats us to a pointless road movie with seemingly endless bouts of obscenity-laden banter. This is a movie pushing close to two hours defined by long bouts of characters musing about popular culture. Few movies need to be two hours – this is not one of them.
As a result, 3 From Hell treats us to a pointless road movie with seemingly endless bouts of obscenity-laden banter.
What’s worse than its pointless story is just how repetitive everything is in the sequel. Outside of Zombie’s early homage to women-in-prison exploitation movies, 3 From Hell seems content to rehash entire scenes from The Devil’s Rejects. Once again The Firefly’s terrorize an innocent party. Then there’s a car ride with some family bickering. And, just like in The Devil’s Rejects, another pack of vengeful killers ambush the ‘Three’ in a brothel. Don’t even ask how Zombie resurrects his unholy trio. With all the possibilities (hello, Doctor Satan), Zombie’s narrative choice is disappointing and almost lazy.
Zombie’s Grindhouse Style Missing Its Usual Flair
For Zombie fans, you’ll find most of what you would generally expect from his movies. Deplorable characters. An eclectic soundtrack. Excessive slow-motion scenes. Plenty of foul language. And gratuitous nudity. Despite all the familiar Grindhouse ingredients, 3 From Hell lacks the brutal ‘gut-punch’ of The Devil’s Rejects. Some scenes – like Baby’s prison fight – are so frenetically edited that you can’t tell what’s happening. Zombie’s extended motel scene from The Devil’s Rejects was unnerving and uncomfortable. Not so with the hostage-taking of Warden Virgil Harper’s family. It’s more d dull than shocking. Even the movie’s climatic finale feels dragged out. Few filmmakers get Grindhouse aesthetics like Zombie, but 3 From Hell feels phoned in.
Sequel Even Drains The Firefly Clan of Their Dangerous Energy
Part of what made The Devil’s Rejects work so well was the dangerous charisma of its depraved killers. Unfortunately, 3 From Hell even manages to drain The Firefly’s of their menace. Bill Moseley is a prolific genre actor, but he’s left reciting what feels like recycled dialogue from the earlier movies. Then Sid Haig – who sadly passed away a few days after the movie’s release – barely factors into the story.
Blink and you’re likely to miss poor Danny Trejo.
As a result, Richard Brake fills in the third part of the devilish trio. Though Brake was the best part of Zombie’s 31, he feels like a literal third-wheel here. In fact, the movie actually comments on the superfluous nature of his character. As for Sheri-Moon Zombie, in spite of her limitations as an actor, she could probably play Baby Firefly in her sleep. Other Zombie regulars turn up with Dee Wallace Stone making the most of her screen time. Blink and you’re likely to miss poor Danny Trejo.
3 From Hell Dull, Pointless Sequel
Love or hate his movies, Rob Zombie has never lacked for a unique vision. Even the grimy 31 had its own bizarre style and moments of memorable, if not ugly, brutality. But if 31 was a regression for Zombie, 3 From Hell represents something else. For the first time, Zombie has made a boring movie. Straight out of the gate, Zombie disappoints with the dullest ‘resurrection’ he could have chosen for his ‘Devil’s Rejects’. And it’s all downhill form that point onward. Repetitive, poorly edited, and punctuated with long chunks of trivial banter, 3 From Hell is the worst-case scenario for Zombie. It’s not just a bad movie – it’s forgettable.