MARCH 21, 2013 SCREENING: HERE COMES THE DEVIL (2013)
Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever had this type of experience while watching a movie before. I hated it and then I loved it.
The opening scene of this movie made me immediately think this film would be exploitative trash, and I dreaded having to endure 90 more mins. of this movie. Then, the film slowly became tolerable, then it started to intrigue me and presented a lot of interesting ideas. Finally, it really had me riveted towards the climax, and the final scene was a great twist and went out with a bang (in this case, it literally went out with a bang as well). Basically, it started off terrible and just got better and better. I don’t recall any other film that went from a F grade to an A grade over the course of the story.
Here Comes the Devil (2013), like the previous film I reviewed, is a recently made Mexican horror film. Unlike a lot of critics, I usually have no problems watching the English dubbed version of a foreign film, and that I can concentrate on the films onscreen instead of having to read the dialogue. Here Comes the Devil is an exception though – the English language voices really didn’t match their Mexican counterparts at all, and much of the dubbing is painfully obviously because its not in sync with the lips. I’d advise watching the Spanish language version, and I switched over to the original language about 20 minutes in.
Language problems aside, the opening scene gave me good reason to hate this movie. It was a “kinky” lesbian sex scene showing us gratuitous shots of breasts, set to some typical grinding porn sounding music. The actresses were hot, but the scene left me cold because it appeared to be what is typical of horror movies – random soft-core sex scenes that occur for no other reason than to market the movie to horny guys and have sexy people killed off right after they have sex. In this case, no one died, and film quickly cut away in a seemingly unrelated story about a family going on a weekend trip in a forest. The mom was one of the women that had been in the earlier lesbian sex scene, and she has another (this time even more awkward) sex scene in the car with her husband, after her children disappear out in the woods.
When the children return, the film starts to get some life in it. They’re obviously the same kids and respond to their parents the same way, but everything about them is otherwise different, as if they were suffering random memory loss, inhabited by spirits, or had a personality transplant. It soon becomes apparent that there’s sinister forces at work, and they’re plaguing this family. The sexual stuff now even starts to pay off and is related to the family’s problems – the young daughter gets her first period towards the start of the film, right when the mother was away with her husband discussing the first time she had sex. Later in the film, the mother suspects one neighbor must have done something to the children, and when her husband find’s their daughter’s panties in the man’s cupboard – still stained with period blood – the wife snaps and slits the neighbors throat.
In many ways, Here Comes the Devil is a throwback to those old 1970s American horror films about the occult – ones that were psychological thrillers more than anything else, and it was all about raising your hairs over what you didn’t see. If you liked those movies, you’ll like this one. The twist at the end and final scene left me intrigued, and now I want to re-watch the movie all over again for “clues” I may have missed earlier in the movie. The viewer is left with a non-win scenario since the final scene in the movie answers the question about why the kids were behaving strangely, but it raises so many more questions. The overly sexual situations at the start of the film turn out to be important plot points later on (including a very disturbing thing that the children are doing when their parents are away), and the parents behavior certainly affects what happens as well.
Here Comes the Devil might be a rare example of a movie that does “bait and switch” is a good way. It lead me to believe it would be another dumb slasher movie with topless women running around at a slumber party (I was preparing myself to write a review bemoaning how even Mexican movies have now been tainted by the success of “Showgirls” type American movies). It turned out to be something entirely different, but it was particularly clever because the earlier “dumb” scenes turned out to be important, and not just throwaway stuff so the movie can have more sex and violence.
This is a movie that I’ll have to watch a second time, and maybe even a third or fourth time, to fully “get” everything it presented me with. It may not be your kind of film, and that’s totally understandable given the bizarre sex stuff, dragging storyline, nagging family drama, and other types of stuff that the audience has to work with in this movie. But man, it certainly does find a way to work with what it’s got!
*** out of ****