Is it too early to anoint Adrian Garcia Bogliano a “master of horror” yet? With 2008’s harrowing I’ll Never Die Alone, 2010’s nerve-wracking Cold Sweat, and 2011’s relentlessly creepy Penumbra, Bogliano had already convinced me that he had the chops to deserve such a title, but, now, after seeing his acclaimed 2012 “breakthrough” hit, Here Comes the Devil, I’m ready to start the write-in campaign for the Spanish director’s inauguration into the hallowed halls of horror’s elite. With a style that’s at once excitingly fresh and comfortingly old-school, Bogliano employs all manner of camera acrobatics – from Leone-style quick zooms to Hitchcockian forced perspective and split focus, crafting films that are as gorgeous to look at as they are terrifying. Here Comes the Devil is no exception.
The film wastes no time hitting us with the shocks as we open on a surprisingly graphic scene between two women that is soon interrupted by a knock at the door. One of the women – obviously having her first lesbian experience and hoping to hide this indiscretion from her husband - hides in the bedroom, while her emboldened lover goes downstairs to answer the door. The woman upstairs hears a struggle, and, when she rushes to her lover’s aid, she watches on in horror as her lover is being brutally beaten by a dark figure. The timid women breaks a vase over the attackers head, sending him fleeing out into the night, and, when we next see him, he’s ascending a barren hill at dawn, tearing the clothing from his body, as he collapses in a heap.
The film cuts to a Felix (Francisco Barreiro) and Sol (Laura Caro), who are returning from a day trip in Tijuana with their children, Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and Sara (Michele Garcia). They stop for gas at the base of a large hill, where Adolfo and Sara wish to go exploring, leaving Felix and Sol to catch up on some adult time in their parked car. Felix and Sol engage in a session of extremely heavy petting, and then nod off to sleep, waking up some time later and realizing that their children have yet to return. Panicked, Felix ventures up the hill to search for the children, leaving Sol to wait for them at the gas station. Eventually, night falls, and the couple calls the police who then send them off to a motel for the evening until they can resume the search in the morning. Obviously, Sol and Felix get very little sleep, but, when they prepare to return to the gas station the next morning, they are greeted by the sight of their two children being delivered to them by the police. The joyous reunion is short-lived as it becomes apparent that something transpired during the night spent on the hill and, soon, Felix and Sol question not only what happened to their children, but whether or not Adolfo and Sara are their children at all.
Here Comes the Devil is a full-blown psycho-sexual nightmare come to life; a twisted tale that encompasses everything from native mysticism and pedophilia to incest and the occult. As with his previous films, Bogliano imbues the proceedings with a dark eroticism that belies the material’s inherently unpleasant nature (Sol and Felix’s gas station make-out session, for example, is at once intensely sensual and thoroughly depraved). Sex is the subtext for everything in the film, showing us the ugly side of our basest instinct, and it makes for truly unsettling viewing, made especially more disquieting when one of the film’s “surprises” (one that doesn’t come as much of a shock as Bogliano drops a lot of hints prior) is revealed.
Stylistically, Bogliano maintains his hyperactive approach to filmmaking, zipping around with his camera, employing the aforementioned fast zooms and forced perspective (which is used quite a bit here to great effect), and weaving a tapestry of beautiful, surreal imagery against which his dreadful premise plays out. Barreiro and the gorgeous Caro, meanwhile, turn in excellent performances as the harried parents, lending the otherwise fantastical story some much-needed gravitas.
Here Comes the Devil comes to Blu-ray via Magnolia Films Magnet imprint, and is presented in a sparkling clean 2.40:1 1080p transfer. Shot digitally, the film has a crisp, intensely detailed image that boasts rich, deep blacks and manages to maintain solid balance despite a color palette as hot as the Tijuana sun. The near-pristine image is complimented by a very robust 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix (in English or Spanish, although, for this review, the Spanish language track was used). It’s a very atmospheric mix, filled with dread-inducing sound effects, nicely implemented directional cues, and potent bass.
Bonus features include an English language commentary track with Bogliano, whose English is actually quite good (although, at times, his Spanish accent is a bit thick, so I found myself hitting the rewind button occasionally). The director talks about his approach to the material as well as the films that inspired it, offering up some very interesting tidbits and clarification about things that occur in the film that I actually missed upon my first viewing.
Other bonus features include an Extended Nightmare Scene (HD), Behind-the-Scenes Comparisons (HD), raw rehearsal footage (HD), and a short EPK from AXS TV (a US network owned by billionaire Mark Cuban, who also owns Magnolia Films). Rounding out the extras are a photo gallery and trailers for several Magnolia releases (all in HD).
For my money, Here Comes the Devil is Adrian Garcia-Bogliano’s most assured and successful work yet, and cements his place among the most talented and exciting horror filmmakers working today. Magnolia’s Blu-ray presentation offers exceptional sights and sounds as well as a solid assortment of extra features, and comes highly recommended!