WWII meets demonic mumbo-jumbo in visual-effects artist Paul Campion's directorial debut, "The Devil's Rock."

WWII meets demonic mumbo-jumbo in visual-effects artist Paul Campion’s directorial debut, “The Devil’s Rock.” Set in the Channel Islands off Blighty’s south coast, this New Zealand-filmed genre hybrid should have negligible appeal to war-movie aficionados, usually a reliable ancillary market, and may also have a devil of a job wooing fans of supernatural scares. Arriving in a few U.K. cinemas a month ahead of its North American premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia fest, pic looks set to occupy its own corner of box office hell.

To distract Hitler’s attention before the D-Day landings, two commandos (Craig Hall, Karlos Drinkwater) wash up on the island of Forau, on a mission to destroy German gun emplacements. Unwisely investigating screams emanating from a military bunker, they stumble on a secret weapon in human form, devised by an occultist Nazi officer (Matthew Sunderland). The rest of the action unfolds inside the gloomy lair in an attempt to deliver claustrophobic intensity. Perfs are OK, although Sunderland’s accent — – vaguely English, vaguely Antipodean, not remotely German – — distracts. Favoring red prosthetic makeup over CGI, the demon is unlikely to give anyone sleepless nights, except the investors.

The Devil's Rock

New Zealand

Production

A Metrodome Distribution (in U.K.) release of a New Zealand Film Commission and Chameleon Pictures presentation of a Severe Features production. (International sales: New Zealand Film Commission, Wellington.) Produced by Leanne Saunders. Executive producers, Paul Campion, Saunders. Directed by Paul Campion. Screenplay, Campion, Paul Finch, Brett Ihaka.

Crew

Camera (color, HD) Rob Marsh; editor, Jeff Hurrell; music, Andrea Possee; production designer, Mary Pike; art director, Zoe Wilson; set decorators, Laki Laban, Nathan Gray; costume designer, Tristan McCallum; demon prosthetic makeup, Weta Workshop. Reviewed on DVD, London, July 8, 2011. (In Fantasia Fest.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland, Gina Varela, Karlos Drinkwater, Geraldine Brophy.
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