Here Comes The Devil – Adrian Garcia Bogliano – 2012

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Adrian Garcia Bogliano loves to cite classic 70’s filmmakers like Peter Weir and Roman Polanski as some of his favorites, but when I look at his films I see Hitchcock. Bogliano knows that good suspense comes with well thought out character investment, and without that necessary empathy, tension becomes boredom. There’s nothing boring at all about his newest and most wrenching effort, Here Comes The Devil, a supernatural shocker that milks the audience’s expectations for a horror film. Again and again, Bogliano turns the plot on its head, deliberately playing his hand until the final moments.

The film begins on Felix and Sol, and their children on a family trip near Tijuana. As the day winds down, the son and daughter ask to climb the hill one last time before departure. The parents see this as an opportunity to have some time alone and they tell the children to return shortly. The following scene is crucial to understanding the themes of the film. Felix and Sol, in the late heat of the day, sit in their car and re-count their first sexual experiences to one another. Felix puts his hand down Sol’s pants as she tells her story and the sexuality is palpable. The kids do not return. Police are called, arguments had over fault. Felix and Sol are inconsolable.

Then the children return.

Something is different, and Felix and Sol must solve the riddle, lest their children grow up with some unknown trauma. As they play detective they make startling discoveries that lead to extreme actions. To say too much about this film would be a crime. Each scene raises the stakes and furthers the viewer’s investment in these characters. It is a joy to watch someone who is truly a master of suspense turn the screws and subvert genre conventions at each turn.

The film bounces from washed out exteriors to blue and green interiors to psychedelic dreamscapes with ease. The design of each scene echoes the looming dread at play and Bogliano never loosens his grip around the throat of the audience. I was taken aback over and over as the film descended in to themes and situations rarely touched in even the darkest horror films. To a horror fan this is bliss, but to a casual viewer it might be too much. That being said, he never exploits the material, allowing the capacity of the story to aptly deliver its intended sense of doom.

Felix and Sol are incredibly believable individuals, offering naturalistic performances, one any parent could readily identify with. Felix is ready to solve these problems with any means he can muster while Sol, is less pragmatic and sees beyond the obvious possibilities. The differences in these approaches create an interesting psychological conflict between the parents. Both Felix and Sol want the issue behind them, but one represents a dark secret better left hidden in the past while the other indicates a horrifying truth lurking near in the future. She is the sun shining light on the truth.

To really discuss the themes without spoiling the text is impossible, and with the film near to release, I couldn’t do it. But, I’ll say this one goes deep, and goes for the throat with teeth.

Bogliano is on quite a run here from Sudor Frio, Penumbra and now Here Comes The Devil. His films always leave you caring for the doomed. Character driven horror? I fucking love it. Let’s see if other filmmakers are taking notes.

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