Review by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
Director: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Stars:: Francisco Barreiro, Laura Caro, Alan Martinez, Michele Garcia, David Arturo Cabezud, Giancarlo Ruiz, Enrique Saint-Martin
Running time: 97 minutes
Every now and then, a genre filmmaker comes along who's full of unique ideas and has a visual style all his own. It's a rare occurrence, sadly, but it does happen. Straight out of Argentina, writer-director Adrian Garcia Bogliano certainly fits the bill. In a tireless, hardly two-year span, Bogliano has completed a trio of fresh, exciting new horror films, all of which are somewhat rough around the edges but exhibit a creative mind who's willing to subvert familiar tropes and experiment with presentation. In Cold Sweat (released on DVD in January), he merged elements of action, comedy, and all-out macabre in an over stylized tale of elders who kill young, beautiful women with nitroglycerin; with Penumbra (which received a limited release in April), Bogliano abandoned the frantic pace of Cold Sweatbut kept much of the dark humor while opting for a meticulously slow build-up to follow a feisty realtor who gradually plunges into a Satanic nightmare.
With his latest, Here Comes the Devil, though, Bogliano doesn't want viewers to laugh. Not in the slightest bit. The filmmaker's darkest, and best, movie thus far, it's an exercise in escalating dread that continuously defies the seasoned horror fan's expectations.
At times, Here Comes the Devil looks and feels like your typical "creepy kid" affair, as it follows a pair of shell-shocked parents (Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro, both of whom give strong, resonant performances) trying to figure out why their young son and daughter have been acting so strangely since returning from an off-the-beaten-path cave in Tijuana, Mexico. Staring at their parents with lifeless eyes, the kids certainly follow the scary child motif, but Bogliano has something much more insidious in store for the family.
Like the director's previous films, Here Comes the Devil shows a young director who's still finding himself; packed with bizarre editing choices, sudden close-ups, and jarring musical cues, it's purposefully off-kilter, and not all of Bogliano's moves connect; though, one extended sequence where a side character recounts a nightmarish episode, with its heightened, psychedelic freakout nature, is a knockout. He's also guilty of the old final-scene-of-Psycho sin of over-explaining what's going on beneath the story's surface, a choice that diminishes some of Here Comes the Devil's earlier, engrossing ambiguity during the film's final act. But the overall combined effect of his many odd flourishes conveys a funereal, creeping, and frequently deranged mood, right down to a clever downer of a shock ending that brings to mind one particular Stephen King novel, in a positive way.
An artistic leap forward from Bogliano's prior works, Here Comes the Devil is further proof that he's a fresh-minded filmmaker with a bright future ahead of him, assuming he's able to keep his singular approach intact once Hollywood comes calling. Which, if they're wise, studio execs will do sooner rather than later.
Review by Matt Barone (@MBarone)