Rule number one of demonology – and demon-fueled horror – is 'Never let the devil over the threshold.' But there's no advice on what to do if it's the devil's home too.
Writer/director Adrián García Bogliano is a Fantastic Fest regular: His slow-burn shocker Cold Sweat was part of SXFantastic, the Fantastic Fest intrusion into SXSW 2011, while his disappointing follow-up Penumbra played at Fantastic Fest last Fall. But his trademark blend of greasy sex and disturbing horror plays well here for a reason: It's smart, gruesome, and always character driven.
After two films in Argentina, Bogliano moves the action to the rocky hills of Tijuana, as a family takes a pleasant day trip to the country. Their two kids ask to go rambling as the parents work out some issues in the car: But when the kids finally reappear, they're different. How different, and how far will their parents go to find out what happened to their babies? Those are the two key conundrums here.
There's no surprise that Here Comes the Devil swept the horror awards category at FF2012, or that it's already been acquired by Magnet Releasing. It's a simple, tense, terse family drama that pours a layer of horror and menace over every crevice of the weird mystic hills. It's arguably Bogliano's most loving tribute to Wes Craven, with strands of The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left suturing the screenplay together to grisly effect.
Here Comes the Devil returns to Cold Sweat's simple equation of ordinary people running heard first into an impossible grotesque situation. But where it really ramps up the horror is the underlying story of a family in collapse. Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro walked off with the best horror performance awards at FF2012 as the committed parents and tired spouses. Barreiro will be familiar to Mexican horror fans from cannibalistic family drama We Are What We Are, and has evolved here from the street-tough Alfredo into the puffy, oblivious Felix, a man struggling to understand what has happened to his kids. But it's Caro who is the real revelation here: In her first leading role, the R&B singer gives Sol a tired depth
Bogliano's grindhouse genius here is that he leaves the audience guessing whether this is a real satanic horror, or a satanic panic, right until the final disturbing act. He keeps his trademark salacious instincts restricted to a couple of scenes (a mostly gratuitous lesbian sex scene, and a more relevant moment of spousal intimacy), instead keeping the bloody pressure up. This isn't either/or horror: When this devil shows his horns, it's a moment that cracks the family and the audience open. When you find out exactly how bad the situation is, you'll be trying to work out how the family can ever emerge unscathed.
Here Comes the Devil. D: Adrián García Bogliano, 97 mins.
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