The Devil’s Rock regrettably dwindles into a somewhat disappointing climax and doesn't bring anything new to the Nazi-horror subgenre.
The Nazis were mad for a bit of black magic and loved nothing more than delving into a bit of occultism on a Sunday afternoon. Indiana Jones says so, and who are we to argue? Indeed, Hitler and the occult have gone hand-in-hand in movies for decades now, springing up in the likes of the Indy exploits, Hellboy, Outpost, and that classic of the subgenre, Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge.
The Devil’s Rock, the debut feature-length movie from WETA graduate Paul Campion (visual effects artist on The Lord of the Rings trilogy amongst many others), however, attempts to play down the camp and opts for something far more staid and sinister (a surprise considering Campion’s short films include Eel Girl and Night of the Hell Hamsters).
In the Channel Islands on the eve of D-Day, two Kiwi commandos arrive on land with a mission to destroy German gun emplacements to distract Hitler’s forces away from Normandy. However, not long after cool and collective Captain Ben Grogan (Hall) and family man, Sergeant Joe Tane, have set foot on mine-infested soil, the soldiers stumble across the bizarre aftermath of multiple gruesome murders in an underground bunker, where they discover the head of Hitler’s occult Gestapo squadron, Colonel Klaus Meyer (Matthew Sunderland).
This New Zealand thriller sets up the proceedings for a neat little two-hander between Hall’s bound good guy soldier and Sunderland’s menacing (doing a fine job of keeping the 'Allo 'Allo! caricature-style Nazi shtick to a minimum) Nazi tormentor. Unfortunately, the spell is broken far too early and the intensity subsides into a far less thrilling three-way between soldier, Nazi and possible ex-girlfriend but probably demon.
Losing its edge to over-familiar and tiresome mind games between good and evil, The Devil’s Rock regrettably dwindles into a somewhat disappointing climax and doesn’t really bring anything new to the Nazi-horror subgenre.
There are some fairly neat but restrained physical effects on offer thanks to WETA, and eagle-eyed horror buffs will want to look out for a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Black Sheep director, Jonathan King.
Occult Nazis from Down Under? Yes please!
Means well but ultimately lacks original thrills.
On the very fringe of cult.