Mexican director Adrián García Bogliano’s film “Here Comes the Devil” is the kind of horror film I tend to love. While at once fitting well within the weird 1970’s era of “creepy kid horror films” (probably my favorite sub-genre, if there actually is one), it also feels like a little peek inside the modern psyche of the filmmaker. The film is at once fearlessly personal-feeling yet also a well-structured, creepy, hot mess. Bogliano manages to mix some pretty hot sex in with some sheer insanity, as well as terror, to make a horror film that gets a little silly sometimes but still manages to be an intense and bloody good time. While “Here Comes the Devil” doesn’t always fire on all cylinders, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was willing to forgive it when it slips up here and there.
The film opens with an intense lesbian sex scene which, after the climax, turns out to be a forbidden affair. As the woman forbidden to choose who she loves leaves the bed, she is soon attacked by a man that remains faceless to the audience, but not to the women he attacks, and the face the survivor sees is purely terrifying. The film goes from being fairly hot and sexy to downright freaky at the drop of a hat. From there it rather strangely cuts away to husband and wife, Felix (Barreiro) and Sol (Cano), on a day trip with their two pre-teen kids, the elder Sara (Garcia) and her brother Adolfo (Martinez). The day is blazing yet that doesn’t slow the kids who want to explore a nearby mountain. Felix and Sol acquiesce as it will allow them time to cool down in the car while the kids are away. Felix also has plans for some good old-fashioned backseat loving, if he can convince Sol to come around to his way of thinking.
From here the film takes a little snip from Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” as Sol and Felix get hot and heavy, the kids wander off to explore and then, disappear. We don’t really see the kids but we’re like flies on the car window to Felix as he gets Sol in the mood. Sol and Felix (and, SEX!) are clearly to blame, and the already somewhat palpable tension between them rapidly bubbles over as they stressfully search for their kids. Eventually the kids do turn up but they’re acting incredibly strange and, from there, “Here Comes the Devil” goes down the rabbit hole. At once a mystery, a horror film and an examination of how people react in a crisis, “Here Comes the Devil” is a strange and enthralling trip and you never know what might happen next.
As I said, I really liked “Here Comes the Devil.” While I didn’t always understand what Bogliano was trying to get at, I felt a real sense of Catholic guilt shadowing over the film. Many characters wear a crucifix and every person who indulges in sex is made to suffer in various ways. Even Felix and Sol are punished for their dalliances even though they’re married. While I’ll readily admit I may be reading too much into it, and the dumb-American in me was sometimes lost by the poorly subtitled dialogue, I feel there’s ample religious and sexual guilt splashed throughout the film to prove my point.
There are also some pretty huge characters twists that didn’t really jive too well in terms of what we’ve been told about the characters. But on the flipside of that, some seriously insane things are happening to this family and insanity is often best reacted to with even more insane actions. This is, after all, a horror film with heavy doses of psychological upheaval. I appreciated where the film ended up and was glad I didn’t give up on it when some weirdness went down.
I also loved the performances in “Here Comes the Devil,” all across the board. The kids do a nice job being almost Machiavellian in their actions as all the adults around them slowly devolve into crazy people. While both Sarah and Adolfo seemed “off” upon their return home, what’s strange about them remains a mystery. They could easily be dismissed as aloof or bored teens but we the audience are constantly hearing more about their bizarre actions from others, but we don’t see these incidents occur. It adds tension and mystery to an already strange film. Laura Cano as Sol does a great job portraying an intense everywoman who also wields an almost hidden reserve of sexuality and strength. The somewhat squirrely Francisco Barreiro (who plays her husband) is almost a cuckold in her energetic, angry wake.
I’ve not seen any other films by Adrián García Bogliano, but he has 21 writing credits and 17 directorial efforts to his name and I’m definitely interested in seeing more. From just this film I sense a filmmaker who is grappling with his own demons and almost casting them upon the characters in his film. That to me is bold filmmaking. Plus, he has an eye for steamy sex and nasty violence which appeals to my darkside as well.