Michael Tatlock did such a good job with his review of Here Comes the Devil that I was afraid to even attempt my own. I’m joshing you, sorta (he did do a great job!), but I have been super busy of late and so we are wayyyyy far behind on Halloween Fifteen. I’m doing my best to catch up, but we’re coming closer to Halloween every day and I’m getting backed up on stuff to watch!
But we’re here to talk about Here Comes the Devil, not my overabundance of visual horror. The film was released in 2012, a Spanish supernatural tale from Adrian Garcia Bogliano, who both writes and directs. Bogliano has quite a few other films under his belt, reaching back as far as 2004’s Room for Tourists, but his most recent and fairly well-received was Late Phases. If you remember back to my review of that werewolf feature, I found myself unimpressed with Bogliano’s direction and writing style, which often becomes so bogged down in its meanderings and heavy dialogue that it forgets that it’s actually a horror piece with themes of growing old.
Here Comes the Devil, predating Late Phases by a couple years, suffers from a lot of the same problems – chiefly, its slower pacing. Bogliano is a fan of creeping camera shots and long scene takes, allowing the viewer ample time to gaze at the admittedly beautiful scenery of the film. Exceedingly long moments are unbroken by Bogliano’s editing – a car drives down a road, or our main character Felix (Francisco Barreiro) gets out of his vehicle and enters a building. Bogliano’s hope is that these shots are successfully atmospheric, creating an unnerving feeling in the audience because one is forced to watch each event in real time.
But Here Comes the Devil often waivers around its main idea, and in the process, it spends a long period of running time without any direction. Bogliano seems to love dialogue – it’s a huge part of the film – but he often struggles to mold what the characters say into something meaningful. There’s a very odd sex scene early in the film where Felix and Sol (Laura Caro) trade stories of their youth lust escapades while Felix arouses her; it’s filled with dialogue that slowly escalates into something more erotic and a little gross, but the meaning behind it is lost in the moment.
It’s unfortunate, too, that so much of Here Comes the Devil‘s time is spent on lead-up, because there are some good themes here that just don’t find a home later in the film. Sexuality is a big one, namely the essence of sex and lust and its ability to attract darker forces. The sexual act becomes a sort of defilement later, and Bogliano relies on Caro and Barreiro to sell the odd relationship they have that ultimately becomes a pact in murder; however, Here Comes the Devil often fails to explain its ideas, simply allowing them to remain evident to the viewer.
For much of the film, the actual point of the plot will seem nonexistent. Despite Bogliano’s clearly influenced directing, and his metaphorically-heavy script, he doesn’t juggle multiple events well. The paranormal aspect of Here Comes the Devil is lacking, and it only comes into play in the final moments of the film. Instead, Bogliano focuses on human frailty and muddles the film’s intent; there are too many sporadic plot elements to really be effective, and that’s all too evident in the conclusion.
Even with the atmospheric and somewhat tense rising action, the finale leaves a lot to be desired. Much like the opening of the film, there’s no explanation for it all – it simply happens, and quickly, which is at odds with the entire tone of Here Comes the Devil beforehand. It almost feels like Bogliano couldn’t find a satisfying ending and so swiftly, but brutally, ended it with a conceit that makes up the entirety of the film anyway. The supernatural is at work, but since Bogliano has failed to really quantify it, it’s far less effective than it could be.
What viewers are left with is a disappointing film not because of a cliched nature or from poor performances, but because Bogliano is unable to narrow the focus. And for such a slow-burning movie, an anticlimactic ending is really just a slap in the face to viewers who, throughout, weren’t quite sure whether they wanted to wait for the devil to arrive.