Wednesday, September 12, 2012
HERE COMES THE DEVIL: Review
If you're familiar with Mexican horror films and are expecting something Gothic, spooky, and languorous from Adrián García Bogliano, you're in for a surprise. His newest film, Here Comes The Devil, is going to scorch your eyeballs and bathe them in blood.
Sex, sex, and more sex. And blood. And sullen teenagers. These aren't your average sullen teenagers; they're creepy. Creepier than your average sullen teenagers, that is.
There's a lot going on in Here Comes The Devil and to attempt even a plot synopsis would ruin the thrills. You might already know that the film is about possession, possibly the Devil, and missing kids who return to their worried parents as mysteriously as they disappeared, but who don't seem quite the same after they come back.
The devil in question isn't the one you're expecting, and that is a big part of what makes Here Comes The Devil so complex and fascinating. Ironically, Bogliano's visual style—lots of zooms, close ups, and intense deep focus shots—is straightforward and almost humorous. In the Q&A after the film's premiere at the Festival, he professed his love for Nicolas Roeg's style of filmmaking (Roeg is thanked in the credits) and noted the audience laughter during all those crazy zooms, which, along with some unusual sound design and a particularly emotional score, have led a few critics to dismiss Bogliano as an amateur, but he's way smarter than they think.
What such over-the-top cinematic tropes do is provide a lighthearted counterpoint to a deeply unsettling film. Yes, the handful of graphically violent scenes are going to shock you, even if you think you're used to movies where blood spurts at you like a busted fire hydrant. The most potentially disturbing scene in the movie, however, is not even shown; what's more disturbing is that it's hinted at early on, leaving the audience to wonder if the Devil was just finishing up what nature already started.
As the troubled parents, Francisco Berreiro and Laura Caro are outstanding. It's even more impressive when you learn this is Caro's first film role (she's a trained singer and had previously only acted in a soap opera). Their performances add some grit to an also-excellent screenplay with a believable narrative arc and convincing dialogue.
References to other films—Picnic At Hanging Rock, The Entity—were obvious before Bogliano admitted they were an influence in that Q&A. I'll add two more: The Exorcist and (the original) Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but here they're both cleverly inverted.
You don't have to be a film buff appreciate Here Comes The Devil, but although it's (relatively) straightforward, don't expect to have all your questions answered at the end, either. This is one you're going to think about for a while after you leave the theater.
HERE COMES THE DEVIL Screening Times:
Wed., Sept. 13th, 7:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3
Sun., Sept. 16th, 3:30PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4