The film opens with a graphically raw lesbian sex scene. Then one of the girls gets killed by a serial killer. That’s right, Bogliano’s Here Comes the Devil is another Catholic guilt film.
After the unnecessarily gratuitous opening scene, the film begins to show some promise as it apparently abandons the whole slasher premise. Sol (Laura Caro) and her husband Felix (Francisco Barreiro) have taken their children Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and Sara (Michele Garcia) on what seems to be an exceptionally boring trip to the beach in Tijuana.
Whilst there – for whatever reason – the kids want to investigate a nearby cave, which in no uncertain terms represents a vagina. Sol and Felix allow them to do so, and in their absence decide to have a raunchy time whilst waiting in the car, exchanging stories about sexual encounters during their youth. And bam, their kids don’t come back. Should have thought about that before having a sexy time, shouldn’t you, Sol and Felix?
Eventually, a police officer who does a weak Peter Faulk impression finds Adolfo and Sara, who turn out to be just fine. All is well, until Sol begins to suspect that something sinister may have occurred whilst the children were elsewhere. Their behavior is off, and their social manners have really gone down the pan, so Sol and Felix investigate.
After sending Sara to a psychologist, it becomes apparent that she has suffered an undetermined sexual assault. Sol and Felix immediately jump to the conclusion that it was a creepy man who they had seen hanging around the caves where their children had disappeared. Rather than involve the authorities, they break into the man’s house, find a blood-stained pair of panties that belong to their daughter, and murder him by cutting his throat and tearing out the larynx. Well, that couldn’t possibly come back to haunt them, could it?
But wait – did I mention that this was a horror film that has ghosts and shit in it? Because this is the point where I almost lost interest entirely.
The viewer suspects, evident through behavior patterns, that Adolfo and his sister may have had sex and the murder than their parents commit is misguided. Should Bogliano have followed this route, it may have been interesting. However, the revelation is that the cave is haunted by the devil, who had previously possessed a serial killer (from the opening scene). It turns out that evil spirits have taken control of the children, for no apparent reason as all they seem to do is turn lights on and off and stand on their babysitter’s chest. I used to do that all the time.
Sol becomes increasingly guilt-ridden over the erroneous murder and goes to the cave herself, only to find the actual bodies of their kids, who it turns out had actually been going at it anyhow. Then, as murder seems to be her kneejerk, she decides to kill them both. The film finishes with Sol taking Felix to the cave and showing him the bodies of their actual children, but – wait for it – Felix becomes possessed and shoots Sol in the head. In the tradition of Haneke, the film ends with some rather enjoyable grind/metal/mathcore.
The weakness of Here Comes the Devil, directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, is in how it exerts a point. The lesbian woman gets killed, the parents who talk about childhood sexual experiences find out that their kids have been having sex, and the murderers get killed and then possessed. We don’t need to be reminded that subjectively bad things happen to subjectively bad people, or that ‘innocence sometimes gets devoured by experience’.
The patronising motifs of the film are a shame, because the cinematography and special effects are both rather good. The violence and gore is believable, if a little overdone (I’ve torn out somebody’s larynx, and there isn’t that much blood), and the child actors are pretty convincing, especially considering the subject matter. The successful elements of the film are invariably let down by a weak, undecided storyline – it’s as if Lars Von Trier and George Romero were promised a gazillion dollars to make a movie, but only if they worked together, so what you end up with is a Freudian clusterfuck of violence and mixed metaphor.
Wait, that’s unfair – I’d actually quite like to see Von Trier and Romero make a film together. It could be about a zombie who goes on holiday to write a dissertation about the Suffragette movement, only to end up falling in love with a talking fox who lives on the top of a phallic tower and when they finally end up getting together he eats the fox’s brains, because that’s just human nature.