Here Comes The Devil (2012)
By: Stuart Giesel on December 30, 2013 | Comments
The Lone Ranger Poster
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Starring:: Laura Caro, Francisco Barreiro, Michele Garcia, Alan Martinez
Screnplay: Adrián García Bogliano
Country: Mexico
Do you like your horror films to be wildly enigmatic and full of whip-zooms? Then you've found your holy grail. Mexican writer/director Adrián García Bogliano has crafted a sort-of homage to The Exorcist by way of Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it's equal parts frustrating and captivating.

The premise is straightforward enough. Married couple Felix (Francisco Barreiro) and Sol (Laura Caro) have two children, Sara (Michele Garcia) and Adolfo (Alan Martinez). The kids are let loose one day, and they climb a hill to explore a mysterious cave. They're gone for many hours, much to the shock and horror of their parents, who expect the worst. The local police won't search for the kids at night because...well, just because -- I guess they don't have the SES or anything like that in Tijuana. They're eventually found, but the kids are acting extremely weird, almost like zombies, presumably as a result of some hideous psychological torment during their nocturnal adventures. Felix refuses to believe anything is wrong, but Sol insists on finding out more, so she hires a child psychologist to dig deeper.

The couple fear that their children were raped by local whacko Lucio. Turns out Lucio has a habit of nicking other people's clothing, and he had taken a particular interest in Sara's underwear, given she had just had her first period. Sol and Felix hastily execute revenge on the presumed perpetrator, but they soon learn that the real criminal is a lot worse than creepy old Lucio.

Here Comes The Devil (in Spanish language with English subtitles) is a strange film. It's quite straightforward as far as the plot goes, but director Bogliano is skilled at wringing a lot from a little, able to create a sinister edge to the dark proceedings. It's a handsome-looking film, the cinematography solid, with some good, eerie, evocative shots, and only falters when it occasionally over-indulges in the dreaded shaky-cam. There are a lot of whip-zooms, an interesting stylistic choice that makes Here Comes The Devil feel more shlocky than it really is. Also, the film starts with a lesbian sex scene, so you get the sense that it's going to be THAT sort of film, except it isn't. There's also a later sex scene in a car between Felix and Sol whilst the kids are away - this involves lots of dirty talk about the pair's first sexual experiences when they were young, and the sexual edge to the material - a lot of it revolving around Sara's passage to womanhood - is undeniably effective. As we piece together what happened to the kids, things look more and more grim for the family. We learn that since her return, Sara's period had stopped abruptly, and the doctor claims she doesn't have a hymen. The parents react accordingly - perhaps a little over-the-top, but hell, any parent would probably feel the same way - but then things get more complicated and icky.

Despite the sinister undercurrent, Here Comes The Devil is very much a slow-burn sort of movie. Honestly, apart from the gratuitous opening, it's pretty dull for the first half hour, but the tension soon grows and we eventually bear witness to an eye-popping scene of gory violence. From there, the pace kicks up a notch as we start to learn more about what happened to the kids that day, and as the police get more involved with their followup work. There are a couple of overtly silly scenes like a possession set to flickering lights to spoil the mood. Undeniably, where Here Comes the Devil, works better is in the "less is more" department (apart from the occasional explosion of grisly violence). Sound plays an important part too: screams that really get under the skin; the ominous, pulsing score; the throb of flickering lights. All good stuff. Still, some people will be turned off by the film's pacing. Not much happens apart from the odd outburst, plot points are suggested rather than overtly slapped in our faces. Personally, it made large chunks of the film feel inert and something of a struggle to get through.

Performances are uniformly good without any one person being a particular standout. The kids don't do much except act zombie-fied. Laura Caro as Sol has to deliver the most emotional range out of all the characters, but for the most part she plays the character fairly low-key. She's to Here Comes The Devil what Ellen Burstyn was to The Exorcist, the identifiable character, the audience's connection to this creepy world. But other than an understandable devotion to her children there's not much depth to this character. She ends up coming across as really flat, and it doesn't help in our engagement of the material. Felix seems to have two settings: bewilderment and rage. When he's not acting sleazy, he proves himself time and time again to be a stubborn and hot-headed idiot.

Ultimately the film is intriguing but unfulfilling. There just seems to be something missing, and I don't mean a clear ending that explains everything to the nth degree. The resolution proved unsatisfactory, if consistent with the rest of the film. Certainly, if you like your films wrapped up tidily with a neat red ribbon then you'd be well advised to skip this. But there's a lot of good stuff buried within this stubborn, poker-faced Mexican horror film, so those who are looking for something beyond the usual Paranormal Activity rot might find much to love here. Probably the word that sums up Here Comes The Devil is enigmatic. Don't be surprised if you have certain moments from the film pop up in your memory over the following few weeks after you've first watched it.
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