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Review: Here Comes The Devil (directed by Adrián García Bogliano)

3 years agoby: Jake Dee

PLOT: After stopping at a gas station for a little R&R on a family vacation, Felix and Sol allow their two children wonder onto the adjacent hillside. When the kids return, they are not the same.

REVIEW: I really had little to no expectations going into HERE COMES THE DEVIL, which usually works as more of a benefit than hindrance. I wish such was the case for this movie, but alas, Adrián García Bogliano has delivered an utterly confounding, un-scary, often amateurish product with about as limited resources as one could possibly have; a limit only exceeded by the films redeeming values. Even more disappointing is how this marks Bogliano's 10th or so feature (COLD SWEAT, PENUMBRA) when it painfully feels like a film student's muddled, self-indulgent first foray. Save for a scene or two, trust me, HERE COMES THE DEVIL is a chore to get though.

We open with a rather titillating lesbo-rug-bump, which, yes, starts with a bang, but quickly proves to be a complete non-sequitur...as we then cut to a new location with completely new characters. We seriously never see or hear from the lesbo couple again. Honest. We then meet Sol and Felix, a Mexican couple with a son, Adolfo, and daughter, Sara. Needing a quick siesta before hitting the open road, Sol and Felix allow Sara and Adolfo to go play on the ominous mountainside neighboring the fill-up station. Then, in what I think must be an important thematic motif, as soon as Sol and Felix begin a lusty embrace, Adolfo and Sara enter a vaginal shaped cave in the rocky hillside. At once, a deleterious force is somehow unleashed, and when the children act strange upon return, it's up to the parents to reverse the curse and somehow restore their children's innocence.

Uneven to say the least, HERE COMES THE DEVIL suffers the most technically and tonally. The cheap video quality, fraught with dizzying zooms and abrupt jump cuts, has the feel of David Lynch's worst cinematic moments. You know how Lynch's work has a surreality that toes the line between laughably amateur and truly brilliant? Well, no brilliance here, just the gauche discomfort of a poorly made film. Which is strange because of how sincere much of the material is handled by the actors, particularly newcomer Laura Caro (Sol). She's the best part of the film, without a doubt, and I'd admired how seriously she took the material, even if she had no earthly right to. She fully sells it, commits, lives and breathes, unfortunately her integrity isn't matched by anyone or anything else in the film. A shame, as we're left with a series of often hilarious occurrences met with an actor truly giving her all. Awkward!

In terms of the macabre, a lot was left to be desired. Flickering lights, banging noises, and cheesy levitation provide most of the supernatural...none of it even remotely alarming. There's one sequence in which Sol and Felix seek revenge on a dirty vagrant who, get this, stole Sara's bloody panties (her first period) at the gas station in the beginning. His gory comeuppance was a little out of left field, as the parents are driven to violence to save the soles of their children, but for grue-hounds, probably the most memorable part of the film. Other than that, the kids' stoic expressions incite anger more than fright (in them and the viewer), and for a movie with the word devil in the title, nothing even vaguely hellish comes across convincingly. The kids are possessed, yes, but do nothing even close to sinister enough to conjure anything outside an eye-roll and a glance at the wrist.

Needless to say, HERE COMES THE DEVIL is pretty close to a waste of time. It's neither scary nor cogent, and reeks of amateur status across the board. Thematically, and I only touched on this because of how ludicrous it is to even articulate, the film seems to say that sex = evil, and that perhaps there's organic goodness in marital celibacy. Why else do we have the opening sex scene, the girl's period, the vaginal cave, and the evil coital transformation...all of this sexual suggestion toward death and destruction? Nothing horrible happens until the exact moment Felix and Sol get busy in the car at the gas station...the same moment the two kids enter the vaginal looking cave. Absurd, I know, but that's what we're dealing with here, and the only statement I can glean from an otherwise head-scratching effort. Not too much fun!

Extra Tidbit: As seen at the 2012 Tiff Film Festival

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