It’s difficult to get excited about a new possession movie when we’re regularly disappointed by studio films that poorly mimic The Exorcist. That’s why I was really impressed with Here Comes the Devil, a film that premiered this month at the Toronto International Film Festival. This is a movie that isn’t afraid to tell a different type of possession tale that many will find unsettling, in part due to its taboo subject matter.
Coming from writer/director Adrián García Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Penumbra), Here Comes the Devil stars Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro as parents whose children go missing after exploring a hill on their own during a family trip to to Tijuana. The children eventually turn up, but it’s apparent to Sol (Laura Caro) that her son and daughter faced some kind of trauma while they were missing. Somehow, this is all related to the mysterious hill that the children were exploring, as well as an incident involving two girls we are introduced to at the beginning of the film.
This would have been a very easy story to develop with one possession cliché after another. Throughout most of the film, there were segments where I was expecting a priest to show up or scenes of extreme wall walking and contorting, but they never came. Instead of trying to scare us with what we’ve seen countless times in other movies, Adrián García Bogliano aims to make the viewer uneasy by focusing on the topics of sexuality and abuse. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t displays of the supernatural, but it is done in a way where it is not dominating the film and is used to achieve maximum effect on the viewer.
This isn’t a movie that is in any rush to reach a conclusion and it serves the story well. Much of the time is spent developing the parents and we see how they each handle the revelation that their children may have been abused, followed by the idea that something supernatural may be involved. Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro deserve plenty of credit here, as their performances pull you in and really sell the film.
Here Comes the Devil will be shocking to the average US moviegoer with its frequent sex, nudity, and subject matter. This was a movie that was designed to be unsettling and a bit taboo, and it’s far more effective and surprising than going after the audience with quick scares alone. The film doesn’t necessarily push any boundaries visually, but Adrián García Bogliano has accomplished the difficult job of crafting a possession story that will leave you thinking and talking. I’d suggest this to any horror fan that enjoys independent films, possession movies, and foreign films that push the boundaries of what we usually see come out of the US.
Film Score: 4/5