High aspirations are done in by its low production qualities.
Here Comes the Devil
One could say that Here Comes the Devil opens with a bang. Literally. The opening scene is striking; two women having passionate sex while a loud and unpleasant soundtrack obliterates your ears. The scene is reminiscent of something David Lynch would parade around in front of his audience. Director Adrián García Bogliano seems to be heavily influenced by the surrealist filmmaker. Although Lynch is a great inspiration, he is often hard to replicate and Bogliano can only seem to get some of it right.
The opening sex scene is followed by a brutal attack on one of the women from the opening tryst. A mysterious stranger breaks in to the house and begins to beat her before hacking off some of her fingers with a machete. We never see the face of the assailant as he flees from the house after the other woman runs in to save her.
Cut to present day and we meet Felix, his wife Sol and their children as they are on a small road trip near Tijuana. During a brief stop at a gas station the children ask if they can play in the hills. The kids run off and Felix and Sol stay behind in the car and wait. In what has to be the most extraordinary, and utterly baffling, scene of the film, Felix ferociously seduces Sol in their car. It’s one of those experiences where you chuckle to yourself and ask, “Am I actually witnessing this?” It’s sensationally erotic.
There is a lot to admire in Bogliano’s film. He creates an undeniably strong atmosphere; sometimes it’s suffocating. Bogliano also seems to be heavily inspired by 70s filmmaking, which is not a bad thing. There is a montage midway through the film that is one of the best pieces of filmmaking in the horror genre that I’ve seen in years. An unholy mixture of blood and satanic, sadomasochistic behavior; the montage is a highlight of Bogliano’s film.
Bogliano is also inspired by the who’s who of horror. I couldn’t help but feel that the gas station location and the missing person scenario was inspired by the marvelous Dutch thriller Spoorloos. And of course we cannot forget Peter Weir’s classic, surrealistic Picnic at Hanging Rock, in which a group of girls go missing at a rock formation, which is eerily similar to the one seen in Here Comes the Devil.
The biggest thing that holds Here Comes the Devil back from being a good movie is the overall cheapness that expels from it. In some scenes you can hardly hear any words being spoken by the characters (while in others the soundtrack explodes like a bomb). The film itself looks to be made with low rent cameras and the film’s poor lighting just seems to make it look even worse. In the end, the film’s high aspirations are done in by its low production qualities. Another thing that hurts the film is the pure sporadic nature of the film’s tone. Bogliano builds a great amount of tension in a lot of scenes but ruins them with odd sound cues that take you out of the moment. It’s just too much at times, which is unfortunate since Here Comes the Devil gets a lot right. While I’m not going to recommend the film, I’m very excited to see what director Bogliano cooks up next.