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Fantastic Fest 2012: Capone says the creepy bar is set high with HERE COMES THE DEVIL!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Austin here for Fantastic Fest 2012.

The one film I saw on my first day at Fantastic Fest this year that I knew the least about going in was HERE COMES THE DEVIL, from Spanish-born director Adrian Garcia Bogliano (COLD SWEAT, PENUMBRA, and a segment in the upcoming THE ABCs OF DEATH). I'd heard good things about the film out of Toronto, but I didn't really read what the story or style comprised, which is one of many reasons the film utterly floored me as it twisted my senses and impressed me with its approach to some fairly unpleasant material.

The film beings with a family of four--parents Felix and Sol (Francisco Barreiro from WE ARE WHAT WE ARE and newcomer Laura Caro) and kids Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and Sara (Michele Garcia)--coming home from a vacation. On the way home, they pause at a truck stop in Tijuana, where the kids want to climb some rocks and explore the caves within. The parents reluctantly agree, but decides to give them a little time to climb while they fool around in the car a little bit. When the children don't return, Felix and Sol begin to panic and call in the police, who tell the couple to stay in a hotel oversight so that everyone will be well rested for the search in the morning. But when the sun comes up, so do the kids, who seem strangely quiet.

Over the next couple days, it becomes clear to the parents that something traumatic happened in those caves, and they set out to discover what. Meanwhile, mysterious earthquakes, flickering lights, and other seemingly unexplainable things begin happening around the house, usually while the children are asleep. At it's core, HERE COMES THE DEVIL is a film of many mysteries, all of which come back to what exactly happened to the kids (both in their early teens), and who or what is continuing to disrupt this family's life at home.

Clearly borrowing some ideas and imagery from Peter Weir's classic PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, Bogliano has essentially constructed his own '70s horror film that, including sloppy zooms and pans, as well as a kind of timeless look to the clothes, settings, and production design, despite the movie being set in the present. Barreiro's performance as the hot-headed father who, at one point, takes the lead in getting justice for what he thinks happened to his children, but the film's real surprise is the bold, brave work by singer-turned-actor Laura Caro, who just utterly floored me with work here. She has a natural, sexy quality to her that is subtle but essential to this character. I can't wait to see the 30 films she's in

But what Bogliano accomplishes so well with this and his other films is never letting the audience get too comfortable with what we're watching. He wants our pulses pounding or our skin crawling or our eyes wide open with some degree of shock. Over the course of about 10 films, he's become something of a master at this, while still mixing things up in terms of plot and genre. HERE COMES THE DEVIL goes into some sleazy territory, but the director's handling of it is extraordinarily careful, even as his soundscape is bombarding us with unnerving noises and music. The filmmakers made an announcement just before the screening that Magnet had picked up the film for distribution, so you'll all get a chance (hopefully soon) to experience this magnificently creepy work.

-- Steve Prokopy
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