Written and directed by Adrián García Bogliano (who contributed to The ABC's Of Death and directed Cold Sweat) starts off with a scene in which two young woman passionately make love. When they finish, one of them has to leave, noting to the other that she has to go home. She leaves and is promptly murdered by a serial killer who chops off her fingers and runs into the hills. From here we cut to a family enjoying a day out in Tijuana. The mother and father, Felix (Francisco Barreiro) and Sol (Laura Caro), are tired so when their kids, Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and Sara (Michele Garcia) want to go explore a remote hill, they let them go off alone, sure that they kids will be back in ninety minutes as promised. And so the kids run off to explore, hand in hand, while husband and wife arose one another in the car with sordid tales of their first sexual experiences. Once satiated, they fall asleep.
The ninety minutes pass quickly and when they awake, the kids are not back. Sol immediately suspects the worst. When she was dealing with Sara's first menstruation earlier in the day she spied a creepy looking guy eyeing the blood stained underwear she was washing in a public bathroom, while Felix wonders if the big red cargo truck he saw pass by might have something to do with it. The cops send them to a hotel for the night where they get into a fight but the next morning, Adolfo and Sara are returned by the cops and at first glance they seem to be fine. As a few days pass, however, Felix and Sol start to notice some strange behavior. Their children seem to be shutting out the world but unusually close to one another and when they track down the man who peeped into the restroom while Sol was taking care of Sara, the children start screaming. This man, named Lucio (David Arturo Cabezud), just so happens to live in the area where the children went missing and so Felix and Sol understandably assume he had something to do with it. When they leave the children with a babysitter, Sol's old friend Marcia (Barbara Perrin Rivemar), for the night and come home to find she's left them alone asleep in their beds, they start to wonder if there might be more to all of this.
Obviously influenced by the possession and occult movies of the 1970s, Here Comes The Devil is a reasonably gripping picture that has no qualms whatsoever about delivering healthy doses of sex, nudity and a singular scene of particularly strong gore (thankfully rendered very effectively using practical effects and without a trace of CGI!). On this level, the movie offers up pretty much exactly what you'd expect and what you'd want out of a horror movie of this type, and that's some gleefully exploitative moments mixed in alongside some creditable performances and a story that, while not without some holes, succeeds in holding out attention.
The performances are strong here, pretty much across the board. The young actors who play Sara and Adolfo have very little dialogue and most of the lines they do have consist only of a word or two but their nearly silent performances are creepy enough to suggest the sinister proceedings that come in the last half hour of the movie. They do what they do quite well and they collectively bring an eerie and illicit presence to the movie. More complex are the performances from Francisco Barreiro as Felix and Laura Caro as Sol. We see early on how they, like many parents, take advantage of the alone time that is offered them when their kids want to explore the hill and how, like some married couples, they introduce a little kink into their sex life to spice things up. Of course, this inevitably results in the disappearance in the first place which sets into motion everything that happens later in the film. They play these parts well, they effectively convey the conflict and emotional ups and downs you'd expect to experience in a horrible situation such as this. While the movie would have been better had they offered up more background on both the kids and the parents (one obvious flaw here is that it's hard to care too much about kids we barely know and about parents who don't seem to have a life outside of the situation here), that issues lies with the script, not the acting. Additionally there are a few spots where you have to wonder if these parents actually work at all and why they would give up so easily on looking for their kids that night they initially go missing. We can attribute that to pacing, probably, but some out there will no doubt notice these issues too.
Attentive viewers will pick up on some interesting bits of foreshadowing that occur throughout the film that help to better explain what happens at the end of the movie while others might be left scratching their heads and wondering what exactly went down before the end credits roar onto the screen. While there are some questions left unanswered (and that's not a bad thing, the movie simply asks you to draw a few conclusions on your own), ultimately this is a pretty rewarding horror picture. It's slick, stylish, intense and even occasionally genuinely frightening.
Here Comes The Devil arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 2.35.1 1080p high definition transfer. The introductory scene with the lesbians looks a bit gritty and then from there it cleans up but there has been a fair bit of color tweaking done to the picture for the duration. As such, we don't get a lot of pop to the colors the way we might expect and additionally the black levels can tend to look like more of a dark grey than a true black. This would appear to be intentional, however, so that's not really a flaw so much as an observation. With that in mind, the transfer otherwise looks pretty good. Detail is generally strong in close ups but even medium and long distance shots can impress. You'll notice the dirt on the door of the family's home near the door handle and if you look for it you'll pick up on some of the grim on the walls of Lucio's home. There are no compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues to complain about and, color grading choices aside, all in all this is a nice picture.
There are audio options provided in both the original Spanish language and in a dubbed English track, both in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The Spanish track is the way to go unless you've got a strong aversion to subtitles, as it's obviously more authentic. Both tracks sound good though, with some solid surround activity coming out of the rear channels in a few key scenes to help add to the movie's bizarre atmosphere. The score sounds good, there's some impressive depth to it, while dialogue stays clean, clear and properly balanced. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion (except for a few spots where distortion is actually used in the mix for artistic effect!) and while most of the time this is a front heavy mix, it suits the movie nicely and is generally a very solid mix. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and French.
The first of the extra features on the disc is an audio commentary with director Adrián García Bogliano that does a pretty great job of explaining the motivations behind the decisions made in making this movie. He discusses a lot of the films and filmmakers that influenced him and in explaining the contributions made by his cast and crew. He also talks up the locations, the themes that run throughout the movie, some of the challenges that he and his crew ran into during the shoot and more. It's a well-paced and very informative track and the best extra on the disc. Bogliano comes across as a likeable and knowledgeable guy and this makes for a good listen.
From there, check out the minute and a half long Extended Nightmare Scene which is, as it sounds, an extended version of the nightmare that Marcia has in the movie. The six and a half minute long Behind The Scenes Comparisons featurette shows off some footage shot on the set in which we see the actors practicing and blocking certain scenes with a small picture in picture window in the bottom corner comparing these clips to the finished footage scene in the movie itself. The ten minute Rehearsals featurette is basically just some clips of the different actors rehearsing their lines and trying to get into character as part of the pre-production process.
Rounding out the extras is a Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery, a three minute AXS TV: A Look At Here Comes The Devi (basically an EPK piece though it does have some input from the director), trailers for other Magnolia Releasing properties, animated menus and chapter selection.
Here Comes The Devil is a solid piece of filmmaking. The story has some plot holes and better character development would have helped but those issues aside this is a tense and effectively made ninety-five minutes of trashy, spooky fun. It's got some slick visuals, some solid acting and at its core an interesting story. The Blu-ray release from Magnolia looks good and sounds good too, throwing in a very strong audio commentary and a few other extras too. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.