Here Comes the Devil Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
Released by Magnolia Pictures
Written and directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano
2013, 97 minutes, Not Rated
Francisco Barreiro as Felix
Laura Caro as Sol
Alan Martinez as Adolfo
Michele Garcia as Sara
Have you ever been excited to go to a new restaurant because their menu says they serve your favorite dish but then realize that, while all the ingredients are the same, the meal isn’t as good as you’re used to? I had a similar feeling after watching Here Comes the Devil.
No, it’s not a sequel to the Korean masterpiece I Saw the Devil (although that would be awesome). Instead, it’s a mediocre entry in the creepy kids and demonic possession subgenres that takes elements from other movies and tries to mold them together into something original. Unfortunately, the parts never quite coalesce into a whole.
The movie opens with a bang. No, seriously, it opens with two women having some pretty graphic sex before one has her arm hacked off by an assailant who flees into the night and up to a hillside cave. Sometime later, married couple Sol (Laura Caro) and Felix (Francisco Barreiro) make a pit stop on a road trip with their kids, Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and Sara (Michele Garcia). The children run up to play in the hills – the same ones we saw the killer run up to – while Sol and Felix stay in the car to talk dirty and visit third base like horny ninth graders. Of course Sara and Adolfo don’t come back, and Sol and Felix take turns blaming each other until the police find the kids the next day. But they are different somehow, quiet and distant. Odd things start to happen when they’re back – small earthquakes, inexplicable noises and power outages. Something obviously happened to the children, and Sol begins to suspect they have been taken over by something supernatural, especially when she hears some local legends about the caves in the hills.
For a movie with creepy possessed children, we don’t see nearly enough of them. We hear from the school principal on the phone that they’ve both been upsetting their classmates, but never hear how. Were they speaking in tongues? Were they taking gruesome revenge on the school bullies? Both of those would have been entertaining to see.
Similarly, there’s never any real doubt in the viewer’s mind as to what’s causing the kids to behave so strangely. The adults pose theories that they are in shock and repressing some sexual trauma that occurred, and that makes sense for their characters. But it rings hollow to us since we know it’s not the case. The filmmakers could have kept things creepier and more interesting if they had left them murkier. Maybe the stress on Sol about her marriage to Felix was too much for her, and everything that was happening was just a series of paranoid hallucinations, Repulsion style. It wouldn’t have made the film perfect, but it would have at least been more engaging if we were unsure what was real or not. But since there’s no real mystery, the big twist isn’t much of a shocker at all, and the ending actually felt like something out of one of the Paranormal Activity films.
The acting is okay, and Caro and Barreiro are good as parents who have to balance an awful secret with a growing concern for their children. Martinez and Garcia do what they can as the kids, though like I said, their screen time is so limited that they only do enough to make us say, “Yep, they’re possessed.” The filmmaking overall is also passable, although there are no fewer than three graphic sex scenes that seem seriously out of place and like they were just thrown in to make this an “adult” movie.
Here Comes the Devil had some good potential, given other films that have done much better with similar material. However, it never does enough to take those familiar elements and make them its own (which they should have been able to do in a 97-minute running time that feels much longer).
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.