THE DEVILS ROCK
The Devil's Rock is a venture into the genre of World War II supernatural films. This began with Michael Manns The Keep (1983), which had Nazis trying to deal with an ancient evil that had been unearthed in a fortress, and was taken up by several other subsequent efforts such as The Bunker (2001), Below (2002) and Deathwatch (2002), while this period also saw a revival of the Nazi zombie theme with Outpost (2007) and sequels, Dead Snow (2009) and Bunker of the Dead (2015), and other oddities like Iron Sky (2012) and Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012) about Nazi enclaves survived into the present-day. Paul Campions plot draws heavily upon the basics of The Keep, borrowing elements like the forbidding stone forest and Nazis (who are representative of the ultimate evil) coming up against a supernatural occult evil that has been unleashed and is eliminating their numbers.
The Devil's Rock starts well. Paul Campion creates reasonable tension during the venture into the bunker, the discovery of gored bodies everywhere (this is not a film that is stinting when it comes to the splatter element) and then finding occult symbols and books, before the characters are killed/captured. The only complaint during these sections might be that the score leaps off into cliche devil worship movie cues of atonal choirs the moment Craig Hall starts looking through the occult tomes. Things improve majorly with the introduction of Matthew Sunderland an actor best known for playing mass murderer David Gray in the New Zealand true-crime film Out of the Blue (2006). Where in Out of the Blue, Sunderland was a shadowy figure defined only by his surly blankness, here he gets to do some real acting. Craig Hall is largely cast as a regular Kiwi Bloke without too many shadings but the middle of the film is absorbed by Sunderlands cool understatement (if sometimes forgotten German accent). The film attains a fine tension during the interrogation scenes and the casual cruelty of the scene where Sunderland burns the photo of Craig Halls dead wife.
The major complaint might be that the films low budget gets in the way of a more full-blooded film. This has essentially mandated that the film only take place between two actors. There is a second member of the Kiwi commando unit but he is killed off in the first few minutes (before Matthew Sunderland even enters the scene). A better budgeted US film would no doubt have expanded the cast and had a series of supplemental killings occurring throughout. The latter third of the show is taken up by the encounter with the female demon that Sunderland keeps chained up who takes the form of Craig Halls dead wife (Gina Varela). The climactic scenes where they conduct an occult ceremony to banish her take more than a few leaves from Hammers The Devil Rides Out (1968).
Full film available online here:-