Prior to his entry in this year’s anthology The ABCs of Death with B is for Bigfoot, no stranger to the horror genre, Argentinian writer/director Adrián García Bogliano pushed the boundaries with Mexican horror Here Comes the Devil. A brave, confrontational Indie film with a style akin to 70s horror it likes to keep you guessing, not so much with a sense of growing dread but more a constant uneasiness while you wait for answers.
Aiming to shock from the outset, the film kicks off with an intense lesbian love scene which quickly turns into something sinister when one of the women is brutally killed by a faceless intruder who then flees into the nearby mountains. The story then abruptly changes focus to protagonists, Felix and Sol (Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro) and their teenage children, Sara and Adolfo (Michele Garcia and Alan Martinez) as they enjoy a picnic in the mountains. After the family return to the nearby village, the children take off back up the mountain and so Felix and Sol get down and dirty in the car as they share their memories of their first sexual experiences. However, to their horror the children do not return, that is until the following morning when Sara explains that they spent the night scared in a cave. But something about them seems different and less innocent, something quiet and emotionless and certainly more than just teenage angst. Suspicious and concerned, Sol whisks them off to a psychologist who makes her think the worst and so she and Felix exact their own brutal justice on the suspected party. Soon, however, noises in the night and flickering lights suggest that some kind of supernatural presence surrounds the children and when a babysitter flees after being left alone with them, the sinister, uncomfortable truth starts to reveal itself.
Here Comes the Devil references many a horror movie. A series of fast paced zooms and cuts give the film a real ‘70s horror feel and, with the striking violence and eroticism running throughout, Bogliano is clearly aiming for a Giallo style. He clearly knows his horror but the story is pieced together oddly at times and although an interesting twist, the ending needs more clarification and so the film lacks the suspense of Giallo. Interestingly though, the plot is abundant with themes including revenge, coming of age, sex and parenting alongside the main themes of possession and the occult. The air of unease around the children with everything that is left unsaid is nothing short of disturbing. The prominent theme here is the suggestion of sex and sex itself. It is quietly portrayed as sinful – made synonymous with the murder, violence and demonic occurrences that penetrate the village. The village itself appears to hold some kind of sexual power – reawakening the sex lives of Felix and Sol and in a sense capturing the innocence of both Sara and Adolfo as they ascend into adulthood.
Caro’s Sol is quietly sexy with her contrasting personality of both softness and strength and Barreiro’s Felix provides a sturdy, albeit naïve companion. In fact each of the characters are perfectly cast, even down to a suspicious detective who shares a particularly engaging scene with Sol. With female intuition a common horror movie cliché, mum Sol is first to suspect that something haunts her children and is strong and constant in her determination to uncover the truth, even if it means hiding her actions from her husband. There is much left unsaid as the story moves along, one example being the killer at the beginning of whom there is only a brief, but creepy, reference later on. There are also many questionable points in the film where you have to wonder why Sol and Felix act the way they do: their children seem so different, skipping school and ignoring them yet they never really confront them or scold them as parents would. There may be moments of confusion peppered through the story but it is clear that Bogliano wants his audience to piece the truth together alongside Sol.
Here Comes the Devil still remains relatively fresh despite borrowing from many a horror and lacking in suspense. Violent and sexually charged, it is a psychologically twisted journey through the occult.