The Nazi’s are like an infinite gift to horror filmmakers. The depths of their depravity was limitless, allowing for all sorts of possibilities. They could create super-soldiers (S.S. Doomtrooper) or be zombies (Dead Snow) or some other supernatural entity (The Keep). And that is hardly a comprehensive list.
In The Devil’s Rock, the Nazis are dabbling in the occult. It’s June 1944, the eve of D-Day. Ben (Craig Hall) and Joe (Karlos Drinkwater) are on a two-man mission in the Channel Islands. Their task is to destroy German weapons right before the invasion of Normandy. Upon hearing screams coming from an ominous building near their target, Ben decides to snoop around. Not a good idea.
They make a gruesome discovery. Dead Nazis are strewn about a room. They did not die peacefully or quickly. Their insides are all over the place rendering them pretty much unrecognizable. Colonel Klaus (Matthew Sunderland) soon finds them, dispatching poor Joe and taking Ben prisoner.
Seeing the dead soldiers and hearing a woman’s screams leads Ben to believe that Klaus has murdered his own men and is using the woman as his plaything. Neither is true. Klaus tells Ben that Hitler is obsessed with the occult. He dispatched teams of Nazis all over the world to look for mystical materials. He is part of a specialist unit investigating claims of witchcraft in the islands. They found it.
The woman screaming is not a woman at all. She’s a flesh-eating shape shifter screaming because she’s hungry. For Hitler she is the perfect weapon. She could, for example, imitate men at the highest levels of command and kill Churchill. Seeing what she has done and is capable of, Klaus wants to destroy her. He has a demonic text and with Ben’s help can send her back to hell.
The Devil’s Rock feels like a play. There are only four major speaking roles and 90% of it takes place in two rooms. In the end it’s a little too small scale. There are long scenes where Klaus gives Ben detailed explanations of demons and demon texts and local legends. None of it is very interesting, and since the movie takes itself very seriously, the occult mumbo jumbo is more unintentionally funny than frightening.
In fact nothing is frightening. There’s hardly any creature action save for one spectacular scene near the end. And the creature itself is disappointing considering the talent behind the camera. The makeup by the geniuses at WETA Workshop is solid, but the creature design is boring. She is red with sharp teeth and small horns on her head. It’s something they could design in a few minutes and isn’t very imaginative.
Sometimes less is more in horror, but if you’re going to make a movie about a Nazi-created supernatural beast, have a little fun. Get a little crazy. Take away the demon and The Devil’s Rock is a somber drama about the horrors of war. It gets an A for effort, but the end result is closer to a C.