Contending with the extreme emotional and physical changes that naturally come with adolescence can be a horror for teens and parents alike. This swift transformation is undoubtingly even more frightening when the kids seemingly become possessed by an evil entity, and their parents are initially reluctant to even admit anything’s wrong. This struggle to maintain the innocence of adolescence is the strong motivating force in writer-director Adrián García Bogliano’s new horror thriller, ‘Here Comes the Devil,’ which opens tomorrow in select New York theaters. Unfortunately, that struggle is harder to control than it seems, as seen with the weak storyline and feeble stunts in the movie.
‘Here Comes the Devil’ follows a family, including Felix (Francisco Barreiro) and Sol (Laura Caro) and their two children, Sara (Michele Garcia) and Adolfo (Alan Martinez), as they spend a day at the beach in Tijuana. The kids then convince Sol to let them explore a nearby hill alone, which grants their parents much-needed alone time in the car. But when their daughter and son fail to return hours later, a panicked Felix and Sol contact the local police. The search becomes even more dire when the sheriff reveals a serial killer has recently been plaguing the area.
The following morning, the kids are inexplicably found, without experiencing any obvious harm. However, Sara and Adolfo have become detached from, and hostile towards, their parents. Sol subsequently takes the children to see a psychiatrist to help contend with their traumatic experience, and she’s outraged to hear they may be suffering the after effects from a possible sexual assault.
Felix is quick to blame a local man, Lucio (David Arturo Cabezud), who’s believed to be a sexual predator and he has spotted following his family, for kidnapping his children. However, Sol spots Sara and Adolfo’s sudden unnatural connection, and is also shocked to discover from their headmistress that they’re not spending their days at school as they claim. When unexplained supernatural disturbances plague the house, she begins to explore the possibility that evil is plaguing her family.
Bogliano, who has made a name for himself writing and directing such Spanish horror films as ‘Cold Sweat’ and ‘The Accursed,’ unfortunately failed to use his experience in the genre to his benefit as he penned and filmed ‘Here Comes the Devil.’ The filmmaker’s latest horror thriller aimed to infuse humor into the dire situation Felix and Sol are experiencing as they search for their children, and their subsequent difficulty adjusting to the teens’ swift change in behavior.
Regrettably, Bogliano’s campy humor, including Felix and Sol’s vulgar banter with each other in the car as they wait for their children to return from the mountain, takes away from their frantic search to find the fiend who hurt their children. The addition of at-times off-target jokes that fail to include any relatable wit takes away from the story’s development of the curse of the mountains, and explanation of why the teens fell under their curse.
When Felix and Sol do come even remotely finding any information about the mountain’s history, and how Lucio mysteriously fits into the area’s supposed curse and killings, the filmmaker blatantly takes away any chance of including sentiment in the story by infusing unnecessary sex scenes. While Barreiro and Caro do seem at ease at getting into their characters’ natural mindsets of needing to rely on each during the increasingly stained time within their family, the continuous use of sex between the two becomes so raunchy it becomes difficult to watch at times.
The inferior stunt work featured in ‘Here Comes the Devil,’ which was crafted by Alfredo Garcia, also disappointingly took away from the horror thriller’s sense of purpose of chronicling a family’s ominous search to find the cause of the terror elicited in the teens. As Sol pursues the cause of the demonic disturbances in the house, for example, she walks into Adolfo’s bedroom to check to see if he’s been hurt. She unexpectedly sees her son floating above his bed, but the levitation doesn’t capture the same horrifying emotional and physical scare as seen with the similarly possessed teen Regan in ‘The Exorcist.’ Martinez instead appears to be humorlessly dangling on wires from the ceiling.
Despite having writing and directing experience in the horror genre, Bogliano unfortunately failed to tell a gripping, frightening story with ‘Here Comes the Devil.’ While the story sets up a good premise of a cursed area overtaking the naivety of the innocent, and powerfully influences them to embark on sordid, ritualistic behavior, the filmmakers’ inclusion of ludicrous humor and overuse of absurd sex scenes took away from any real chance of telling a frightening tale. Combined with the subpar stunt work created by Garcia, the horror thriller proves that a real encounter with the devil would have been more enthralling than watching the one-dimensional story and humor in the writer-director’s latest movie.