Saturday, October 27, 2018

THE DEVIL LIVES HERE (2015) Blu-ray review

The Devil Lives Here (2015) d. Rodrigo Gasparini / Dante Vescio (Brazil) (80 min)

Three teens head off into the countryside to meet up with their friend Apolo at his family’s remote honeybee farm for a little R&R... and perhaps a little occult raising of the dead. You see, every 9 months, as the legend goes, the spirit of a long-dead slave named Bento threatens to slip through the veil, and Apolo’s trusty service hand – who used to perform rites to keep the unquiet spirit at rest – has recently passed away. The kids treat the occasion as an opportunity to party and get frisky (because this is a horror movie), but as the shadows grow long, spooky things start to spin into reality with not only Bento’s restless spirit making its presence known but that of the sadistic Honey Baron (Ivo Muller) who lorded over Bento’s family in life.

The above description should have served as the groundwork for an enjoyable screamfest, rich with native Brazilian lore and nods to Candyman and Evil Dead, but the slapdash script (credited to Rafael Bailu, but “created by” M.M. Izidoro – whatever that means – with a story credit for Guilherme Aranha as well) lays out a perfectly serviceable cabin-in-the-woods adventure and then proceeds to blow everything up in the final act where not one single character behaves accordingly and almost nothing is explained as things lurch to their requisite blood-soaked climax. We get gore and screeching and demonic possession and hot teen coupling and surprise deaths (or kinda deaths, since everyone comes back for at least one more scare). But nothing feels earned and viewers are more in danger of scratching a hole in the top of their heads than they are of being frightened to death.

Not content to use nightmare logic, co-directors Gasaparini and Vescio tell their story in a straightforward, if atmospheric way, as though the nonsense made sense, which it decidedly does not. It’s as though the pair watched some 1980s Italian cinema or David Lynch flicks and said, “Oh, we don’t need a narrative arc,” which is all good and fine, but the energy of such an endeavor should ideally tip an audience off that we’re journeying to an illogical plane so that we can go along for the proverbial ride. It’s an unfortunate decision, since the production values are strong and the performances – however erratic – are deeply invested.

I suspect the film will prove more entertaining on repeat viewings, with expectations properly managed, but the initial voyage is frustrating, one where we are constantly asking ourselves if we missed something somewhere.

The Devil Lives Here is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Artsploitation Films and can be ordered HERE:


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