By Scott Dorward
Here Comes the Devil (Mexico, 2012)
“To them, we’re only a shell. They use us to do evil and then throw us away.”
Here Comes the Devil is another film I’ve been meaning to catch up with for a while. Mexico has long been a hotbed of horror cinema and I find myself taking notice whenever I notice that a film was made there. The Mexican films I’ve seen offer as broad a range of horror as anywhere else, but seem to have a weirder, more morbid sensibility that meshes nicely with my tastes. While Here Comes the Devil doesn’t come close to the polish or explosive imagination of, say, Tigers Are Not Afraid, it still has some engaging unpleasantness to offer.
Here Comes the Devil opens with a sex scene that really has little to do with the main plot. Two young women are having an affair that one of them wants to keep secret. As they discuss their relationship, a serial killer comes calling and attacks them with a machete. He chops off some fingers before being driven away, fleeing to a hillside where he appears to have a seizure. And that’s the last we see of him or the women.
Our actual protagonists are a family with two children — an adolescent girl and her younger brother. On a family outing to the same hill we saw in the opening, the kids wander off to give their parents some sexy alone time. When the children fail to return, their parents understandably panic. After an intensely emotional night in a local motel, filled with recriminations and culminating in an earthquake, the children return.
While the children appear unharmed barring some bruises, their mother, Sol, begins to suspect something is wrong. Both kids are sullen and withdrawn. Sol and her husband Felix decide that the weird loner who lives in a nearby trailer might have abused the children, and they decide to take bloody revenge upon him.
Meanwhile, the children’s behaviour grows stranger and stranger. They drive away their regular babysitter and start playing truant from school, visiting the hill instead. As Sol tries to determine what is wrong with them, she comes to a terrible realisation…
Here Comes the Devil looks fairly cheaply made. It makes good use of locations to work around its limitations, but the lack of budget is still obvious. The lighting and camera work make it feel like a television drama from the 1970s, especially with the overuse of zoom shots. At least the filmmakers saved what money they had for make-up effects, giving us some memorably gory moments.
As the name implies, the protagonists of Here Comes the Devil perceive its horrors in fairly traditional Christian terms. There seems to be more than that going under the surface, however. We keep hearing about how old the cave and the legends surrounding it are. Whatever is lurking there, it seems to pre-date our conceptions of the Devil and his minions.
This idea of ancient, incomprehensible evils hiding behind more traditional symbolism strikes me as oddly Lovecraftian. We never really learn what the entities in this film are, what their agenda is (if any) or what is so special about the cave. People are drawn to the location, creating shrines to ward against the evil that dwells there, or maybe to make offerings. The fact that we’re left wondering about all these things makes them more unnerving than if the spirits had been revealed as, say, demons.
While the premise of Here Comes the Devil is nothing special, its willingness to go to some pretty dark places saves it. Like yesterday’s Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, it relies more on shock than imagination to engage the audience. Between the completely gratuitous sex scene that opens the film, the demonic entities’ focus on breasts, and the sheer bloodiness of the murder scene, this is a film that wants to show you how naughty it’s being.
The various elements of the story — possession, creepy children, a sinister and ancient cave — are well-worn ones. Some of the scenes with, say, the kids floating in the air are completely undermined by overfamiliarity, coming across as more silly than frightening.
Despite these flaws, there is still plenty to enjoy in Here Comes the Devil. There is some real tension and horror in Sol’s creeping realisation of what has happened to her children. And the film’s readiness to its premise to a horrible conclusion certainly won me over. If it had flinched, offering us an inappropriately happy resolution, I would probably have hated this film. Instead, while I still found it a little disappointing, its sheer nastiness saves it from mediocrity.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- 1 – Baskin (2015)
- 2 – The Bar (2017)
- 3 – The Editor (2014)
- 4 – The Beach House (2019)
- 5 – The Mummy (1959)
- 6 – The Wind (2020)
- 7 – Tigers are Not Afraid (2018)
- 8 – Voices From Beyond (1991)
- 9 – Dearest Sister (2016)
- 10 – Patrick (1978)
- 11 – The Transfiguration (2016)
- 12 – The House at the End of Time (2013)
- 13 – The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
- 14 – The Hallow (2015)
- 15 – Night of the Demons (1988)
- 16 – Deep Dark (2015)
- 17 – The Witch Who Came From the Sea (1976)
- 18 – Black Sheep (2006)
- 19 – The Battery (2012)
- 20 – Eaten Alive (1976)
- 21 – Satan’s Slaves (2017)
- 22 – Evolution (2015)
- 23 – The Mortuary Collection (2019)
- 24 – Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973)
- 25 – The Dead Center (2018)
- 26 – Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)
- 27 – Here Comes the Devil (2012)
- 28 – Two Thousand Maniacs (1964)
- 29 – Gretel & Hansel (2020)
- 30 – The Stepfather (1987)
- 31 – In Fabric (2018)
Be warned that I may alter this list according to availability, what I feel like watching at the time, and sheer capriciousness.
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!