The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Here Comes the Devil | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Here Comes the Devil

A couple's disappeared children return, but something's not quite right.

Directed by: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Starring: Francisco Barreiro, Laura Caro, Alan Martinez, Michele Garcia

Spanish language chillers have been having a good time of it of late, mainly ushered in by the Godfather of modern day quiet horror, Guillermo Del Toro. This Mexican-set child abduction, demonic possession hybrid tries to hit the high watermark of J.A. Bayona's 'The Orphanage' but mostly fails.
When married couple Felix (Barreiro) and Sol (Caro) lose their kids in a network of caves on holiday, it looks as though we are dealing with the breakdown of a marriage, with guilt and culpability thrown in each others' faces. When the kids abruptly reappear, when it seems all is lost, the film moves up a gear as we realize something is not quite right with them. Have they been victims of abuse? Or is there a more sulphuric whiff to their current catatonic state?
Bogliano is a young  prolific director who you get the feeling hasn't quiet settled into his groove yet. He has some of the hallmarks of reverse alchemist Rob Zombie, one of those directors who clearly loves the horror genre and wants to recapture the thrill of those old style politically astute horrors of the seventies, however, in taking it apart and reassembling it, he has killed the very thing he loves, smearing it with an excrement patina of nihilism that deadens the impact and depresses the audience. Bogliano is not quite at this level of ineptitude but he has a fan boys love of film that makes this film a melange of movies as diverse as 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', 'Village of the Damned', 'Death Wish' and 'Paranormal Activity', with a soupçon of Latin sexuality and college level Freud.
The film begins with a hot and heavy lesbian sex scene, which ends in a brutal murder that is barely referenced or connected to the main thrust of the plot. When we do finally meet the main protagonists, the kids go missing in a vagina-like opening whilst Felix is exploring his wife's, ahem, "opening" with his fingers. The sexual nature of the scenes are well handled, there's no leery Michael Bay quality to the scenes. But the explicit connection between her sex and that of the cave feels forced and childish.
The eerie disconnected quality of the children is well handled when they return from the cave and Bogliano certainly handles the quieter horror of marital breakdown and the idea that the children you love may not be your children any more, either through abuse or from more elemental forces. The  problem is Bogliano doesn't trust the central idea enough so throws in a sub-plot involving a purported sexual predator which features some very strong violence that sits more at home in the Grand Guignol excesses of the grindhouse tradition than the quietly contemplative thrills that seem to be his forte. That the psychological ramifications of how the parents deal with this predator is given such short shrift when previously they were such well rounded characters is a mystery. He has enough stuff going on here for a mini series and by the time everything starts going all 'Paranormal Activity' most horror fans will be about 20 minutes ahead of the director.
Add in a highly grating intrusion from some heavy metal music and a propensity for the director to zoom in randomly like he is framing a Spaghetti Western, coupled with a climactic liking for disco lights, and you have a film that tries hard but often misses the mark. It does add one new element to the demonic canon of films however in that it seems the Devil has never passed his driving test.

Jason Abbey