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Wide World of Horror: ‘The Devil’s Rock’ – low budget horror done right

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Written by Paul Campion, Paul Finch, & Brett Ihaka
Directed by Paul Campion
New Zealand, 2011

Horror done on a low budget is nothing new to horror fans. The genre is littered with films that were produced under conditions where more had to be made with much, much less. The Devil’s Rock does what most well-made low budget films do, it limits itself to only a few locations and includes a small number of actors. It’s obvious from the start that The Devil’s Rock has been made with very little money. It’s just as obvious that Paul Campion understands the limitation of his budget and works towards his budget instead of trying for more than said budget could possibly provide.

The reason the budget of The Devil’s Rock matters so much is because it seeps through in every moment of the film. Keeping it simple is the key to the success of The Devil’s Rock. The ability of the script to keep things simple is why it’s so easy for a claustrophobic atmosphere to be established. Long hallways, mangled corpses, and an ominous score set the tone. The more time spent in the world of The Devil’s Rock the creepier the atmosphere becomes.

At a certain point a clarity of purpose sets in, and when that happens The Devil’s Rock lurches towards an ending that has been preordained by the atmosphere. Targeting Nazis and the occult is old hat for horror, and movies in general. Those two elements, when tied together, are an easily tapped well. The Devil’s Rock doesn’t rewrite the book when it comes to Nazism and the occult. What the film does is to work within the general notions people hold about both. In doing so the film, again, keeps everything simple. Through economical storytelling the film manages to make an impact on the viewer.

The-Devils-Rock

To be honest, there’s nothing special about The Devil’s Rock. It’s a horror film we’ve all seen before, with topics breached that have been covered to death in the horror genre. The Devil’s Rock manages to be a decent film by acknowledging that it’s treading on old ground. Mr. Campion creates a tense atmosphere from the start, and the dreadfully ominous feel of the film never lets up. What it lacks in budget The Devil’s Rock makes up for in quality filmmaking. There are a lot of big budget horror films that could stand to learn a few lessons from The Devil’s Rock. It’s hard to go wrong with Nazis and the occult, and The Devil’s Rock does right by those ideas and by horror fans in general.

-Bill Thompson


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