Rob Zombie's music was part of the soundtrack to my angry, high school years. I enjoyed his theatricality and darker obsessions while he still made some pretty catchy tunes. That said, I was primed to really enjoy his feature film debut. THAT said, I did not.
The premise of the movie is pure grindhouse. A group of young people hoping to find odd roadside attractions are sent to find a tree from which local legend, Dr. Satan, was hanged. They run across a hitchhiker named Baby and soon get a flat tire. All this leads them to the house of Mother Firefly and her freakish offspring. Of course, the group starts getting picked off one at a time and much horror ensues.
Sounds like a recipe for a fun horror movie but, like Tim Burton identifies with the freaks in his stories, Zombie identifies too much with the killers in this one. He seems to be under the impression that these characters are so fascinating we will just watch them murder and torture at will with no consequences and be delighted. And that's just what they do for the running time of the movie. None of the victims, or the people trying to find the victims, get any sort of break. The Firefly family is just too well-prepared for hunting and killing innocent people for any hope to show through. There is a moment towards the end where you are supposed to think someone has escaped but it doesn't last long enough to register as a catharsis before more evil crap happens. Like a similar horror movie I hate, The Strangers, there is just no relief from the horror and that leaves you without the best part of a horror movie, the safe outlet for your psychic turmoil.
Zombie got it right with the sequel, The Devil's Rejects, by making the Firefly family into the victims of a sinister cop bent on revenge. This first one though, is for people who revel in watching evil win. I wouldn't recommend this but I know plenty of people who like it.