3 From Hell Review: Zombie creates a sadistically fun finale for the Firefly Family.
Writer/director/rocker Rob Zombie creates a fitting end to his Firefly Family Trilogy with 3 From Hell and gives the Rejects a fun finale filled with horrific carnage and perfectly over the top performances.
3 From Hell catches viewers up with Rejects after they miraculously survive the previous film’s bloodbath finale and find themselves sitting on death row. With the trio swirling in the media, there’s a been a strong worry that the group may not be locked up for long. So, after Otis (Bill Moseley) is able to escape with the help of a new addition to the family, Foxy (Richard Blake), the two set out to get Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) out of jail. With Otis and Foxy unable to take Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) with them due to unforeseen circumstances, the two are desperate to get Baby and escape the watchful eyes of a terrible Warden (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and continue their path of death and destruction.
Regardless of how volatile the acts and attitudes of the Firefly Family are, it’s hard to deny that the cast gives incredibly fun, over the top performances. Zombie really lets everyone off their leashes and gives them a self-awareness that leads to some very fun and funny moments. The sadistically cynical humor that comes from Mosley, who’s hilariously now like the tired dad of the group with Spaulding being gone, and bat-shit craziness of Baby actually make the film a much more enjoyable watch. Honestly, Moseley and Zombie are easily the best parts of the Reject’s return and the way they literally give 110 percent into each scene makes they a little hard not to like at times. Don’t get me wrong, the Firefly Family still leaves a hefty amount of gruesome death and destruction that’s a little too much at times and heavily aimed at women, but it’s hard not to expect that with how the series has gone and it’s oddly fitting to the characters. Not to mention, the amount of humor that Zombie implores into his direction and writing makes 3 From Hell a much more relaxing film – which I felt was a nice change of pace from the gritty realism of The Devil’s Rejects.
Foxy is a nice addition to the group and adds some humor of his own that comes from a fun supporting performance from Blake. He services as a nice middle ground between Otis and Baby and, even though he can definitely feel like a replacement for Spaulding, Blake makes his own impression that fans will surely enjoy. In terms of Spaulding, I will say that it was a little disappointing to see him sidelined and his character to be unceremoniously disposed because he’s is such a strong point in the series. However, with Haig’s medical issues keeping him from filming, it’s hard to fault Zombie for getting rid of Spaulding the way that he did and, to be fair, there’s still some great scenes that show why Haig is so great.
It was actually impressive to see how tight the story was and how Zombie’s style worked for me. The story nicely rides the line of having a tight through-line that’s pretty easy to follow and not having it be too tight to the point where it’s predictable. There’s some nice surprises and callbacks along the way, but I do wish that Zombie delved more into the Reject’s mindsets. While there’s some attempts at delving into their mentality and thinking about their motives and mindsets, there’s a big missed opportunity to glimpse into the Reject’s minds and it could’ve made 3 From Hell not completely feel like it’s just hitting its expected bases. The film could’ve been a great reflection on the series, but with Spaulding not being around much, it’s hard not to understand why Zombie might not have gone in this direction. After all, like I said before, Haig is such a pivotal part of the series, and it would’ve felt weird not having him there for it.
The documentary style that Zombie has at the beginning is a nice way to show how the Rejects are making waves in society and gives great vibes of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, while I really enjoyed seeing public reactions to the Reject’s crimes, I wish they played a bigger role into the overall story as it could be interesting to see the Firefly Family’s influence grow within the public. While I also enjoyed Zombie’s filming and editing style at times, it can definitely over-stay it’s welcome. Seeing practical gore effects is always a treat for horror fans and there’s a very hypnotic music video sequence that I thought was visually appealing, but the rapid editing used, and the lazy transitions did nothing for me and are constantly overused. The editing can be so bad at times, especially in more action sequences, that it’s visually nauseating to watch.
While the future is uncertain for Zombie as a filmmaker, personally, I think DC should be looking his way to join their horde of horror directors to create unique new films. If Zombie can bring his unique vision, interesting character writing, and special blend of horror that’s displayed all over 3 From Hell to a fitting character, like Lobo – he could definitely be an interesting player for DC to have up their sleeve. Regardless, if 3 From Hell is truly the last time that the Firefly Family will wreak hell and havoc on the big screen, at least they went out on an entertaining high note.