The Devil’s Rock zeroes in on two Kiwi soldiers (Ben and Joseph), on the eve of Normandy, who have been tasked with destroying gun emplacements to distract Hitler from D-Day. What the pair doesn’t realize is that they are about to cross paths with pure evil. The Nazi soldiers have been dabbling in the black arts in an attempt to gain an advantage in the war. Shortly after the Nazis capture the soldiers, they are introduced to a female demon that would like nothing more than to eat their souls as a snack.
The film is co-written and directed by Paul Campion. The Devil’s Rock marks Campion’s feature film debut but one wouldn’t guess that from watching it. Mr. Campion shows a remarkable amount of directorial skill for a first time feature film director. He creates an atmospheric sense of tension and insights bold performances from his cast. Not only does Campion show promise as a director, he also proves himself as a competent screenwriter. The script is original and takes a brave and unexpected approach to screenwriting that I haven’t seen in many horror movies.
The entire cast gives pitch perfect performances. Craig Hall and Karlos Drinkwater have terrific onscreen chemistry as the soldiers sent in to destroy the weapon emplacements. They display a brotherly bond that appears totally genuine. And Matthew Sunderland is perfectly cast as the vicious Nazi Colonel that captures the men.
Prior to stepping into directing, Campion’s background was in visual effects and matte painting. It’s clear that his background in FX greatly helped the production thrive on its limited budget. The film uses almost all practical effects and the end result is inspired. The she-beast is beautifully crafted. There is ample stage blood spilled and the gore effects are brilliant. The matte effects that are used are so well done that one would have a very difficult time identifying them with an untrained eye.
The Devil’s Rock was shot in just fifteen days with a tiny budget but that’s not at all evident in watching the film. Campion made the most of every minute of the shoot and created a well-crafted tale of terror in record time
The film is smartly paced; the action starts immediately and carries through the duration. While there are a couple of dialogue heavy scenes towards the middle, they don’t detract from the film’s fast pace and these sequences work to develop the characters and their backstory in a way that we don’t often see in horror films.
The Devil’s Rock has a creepy and effective score. It isn’t overly complex or trying too hard to induce scares. Its simplicity works in its favor and adds tension at all of the right times.
The cinematography is very well done. There are plenty of gorgeous shots of the expansive terrain that the soldiers traverse and they are beautifully captured.
The Devil’s Rock screened at a variety of film festivals and received accolades at several of them. The film has been well received by audiences and critics alike and with good reason. It is a taut and thrilling film with great effects and exceptional performances. If this one slipped under your radar, you must seek it out. It’s available on DVD now.
Director(s): Paul Campion
Writer(s): Paul Campion, Paul Finch, Brett Ihaka
Stars: Craig Hall, Karlos Drinkwater, Matthew Sunderland, Gina Varela
Studio/ Production Co: eOne
Length: 86 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Satanic Stories