‘Here Comes the Devil’ Review
There are some films that choose to tell their story in a somewhat obtuse manner, staying one step ahead of the audience, making them work a bit to piece tother the logic of the story. Then there are others that just like to throw a bunch of crap up on the screen and hope it all comes together in the wash. (The wash being editing, music, sound design and special effects.) After a few hours of chewing on ‘Here Comes the Devil,’ the latest from Argentinian genre director Adrian Garcia Bogliano, I’m still not too sure into which category this film fits. I can say, however, that it is entertaining, even enjoyable in a twisted manner. This is a hardcore midnight cult WTF-fest that’s odd, noisy and weird.
After a lusty, violent and hallucinatory prologue (and the best opening shot since ‘Lost in Translation’) we meet a family at a picnic. The young son Adolfo runs to mom and dad to say that his older sister, Sara, is bleeding. She’s had her first period and during a quick trip to a gas station bathroom each child is given quick, vague lessons in biology.
Sparked by the topic of the onset of maturation, mom (Laura Caro) and dad (‘We Are What We Are’s’ Francisco Barreiro) dive into a prurient discussion of their early sexual experiences as the kids climb a hill and inspect a rather vaginal looking cave. As the parents fiddle their way toward climax the kids get closer and closer to danger. We know this because the images keep cross-cutting and zooming and the sound effects get echoey and psychotic.
As a consequence for pleasures of the flesh (and subsequent nap) the kids vanish, only to reappear the next day. They act a little off, however, and after a trip to a psychologist it is thought they were sexually abused. There was, indeed, a creepy guy who lived in a trailer near the hill, and that’s when mom and dad go vigilante.
Despite a brutal dispersal of justice, the household still hasn’t gotten back to normal. The lights flicker, noises are heard and eventually, yes, there are levitations.
This isn’t a standard possession film, though. It’s a bit more of a dazed walk through confusion as mom (mostly, mom) starts to put together what actually happened up in that cave. There’s just enough of a whiff of “old legends” to keep the storyline familiar, but the “rules” of this particular supernaturalism are unique. There are jump scares, but not typical ones. It’s really hard to predict the movie’s rhythm.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that much of the movie looks like real cheapo video, particularly the closeups. It borders on being laughable at times, and while toying with the audience’s emotions is certainly what Bogliano wants, I’m not quite sure this was the desired effect.
There are also a handful of “parents would never do that” moments. Unlike many horror flicks, this isn’t explained away with a, “well, that’s how the genre works,” though. ‘Here Comes The Devil’ gets to say, “well, this is a bizarre, surreal world.” I much prefer this rationalization.
The sound effects in ‘Here Come The Devil’ will no doubt be a sticking point for many. Some may complain it sounds like random cut and pastes on Final Cut Pro, but I’ll defend them as unique, effective and essential, especially considering how there’s little in the script to make explicit the brewing demonism of the film.
One can interpret the title in a number of ways. The obvious, a warning of demonic approach. The other, a declaration concerning a specific place. (Where comes the devil? HERE comes the devil.) Also, concerning the sexual hangups, it works as an innuendo I’ll leave to you to figure out. Is this intentional? Can’t be sure. But I applaud any movie elliptical enough for this sort of speculation while also being a good enough yarn to keep you entertained.
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at Hearst Digital’s UGO for four years and currently contributes to SlashFilm, MTV’s NextMovie and StarTrek.com. He’s made two marginally successful independent movies, is a member of the New York Film Critics Online and was named IFC’s Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast in 2004. Follow him on Twitter at @JHoffman6.