Netflix Roulette: Here Comes the Devil

After yesterday’s disaster I decided to risk it all and played another round of Netflix Roulette. (okay, that may seem hyperbolic, but the travesty of a movie I watched yesterday had me questioning my decision to watch horror movies… I mean, come on, I live like ten minutes from the beach… is this really the best use of my summer (okay, okay, that’s the hyperbolic part… I love this crazy experiment, and have no intentions of abandoning it (in fact, I’m trying to come up with a way to quit my job and just do this for the rest of my life (hyperbolic hyperbole (band name!))))). I’m happy to report that while this may not be the best movie ever, it had a lot going for it. When the wheel stopped on Here Comes the Devil I had a flash of memory…at first, I was worried that I had already watched this movie and completely forgotten about it… at this point in the summer that is a distinct possibility. Just when I was about to chalk it up to the over use of the word “Devil” in horror-movie titles I realized that my horror-movie-partner-in-crime had watched this movie last year and told me about it. I looked back through my social media and here was her one sentence review: “All in all, what I remember is lots of sex and a few particularly disturbing scenes…”. That actually sums it up fairly nicely… part of me just wanted to leave it at that… but, any of you who have been reading this blog knows that I’m not capable of being that terse… so, here we go…

In one sentence, Here Comes the Devil is about a couple whose two children go missing while on a family vacation… they are returned the next day (by the police)… but, they have come back changed (I know… I may have cheated by using ellipses… but that’s still a single sentence in book… and so is this). There’s a great deal more going on here, but I don’t want to give too much away. One other thing to let you know is that it is a Spanish-language film with subtitles (I know that may scare some of you away… though, it really shouldn’t… reading subtitles isn’t that big of a deal… get over it). Towards the very beginning of the film there is a scene of a man stripping down and (there’s really no other way to say this) having sex with the ground (at least I think that’s what was implied)… at this point I firmly accepted the fact that this was going to be one of those movies that is mainly tone and very little in the way of the conceivable plot… I was waiting for a ton of random, disturbing, and inscrutable things to assail my eyeballs for the next ninety minutes. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by how linear and rather simple the plot was. That being said, at times what was happening on the screen didn’t really make a great deal of sense… though it did seem to match with the tone of the film.

There are a couple of minor (and I stress the word “minor) weaknesses to the film. First, the filmmaker (Adrián García Bogliano taking on both writing and directing duties) uses a few weird directorial choices… the most egregious (in my opinion) was his overuse of the quick zoom technique. When used properly (and sparingly) by more adept directors (read: Tarantino and Rami) it can be an effective gag… here, it just felt like I was watching a television show from the 70s. Next, while the film is weirdly straightforward, it occasionally neglects its own (rather loose) rules. Now, this could either be because I didn’t clearly understand the rules or the filmmaker was taking liberties… either way (and to be honest I think it’s a toss-up between the two) this seems like a weakness to me. Finally, the movie is not traditionally scary (neither in terms of jump-scares or real-scares), but it is definitely unsettling… extremely unsettling. I don’t necessarily see this as a weakness because I don’t think the filmmaker was actually going for traditional scares. What I will say is that this movie will stick with me… after watching it I needed to go for a short walk to digest the movie before writing about it (okay… it was really more to get my afternoon caffeine fix, but still, the movie needed time to sink in (by the way, you can look back to the five-level parenthetical conversation at the start of this post for evidence of my caffeine intake)) and, in the end, isn’t that really the mark of an effective movie.

I was going to end it there, but there is something else I need to address (and it comes directly from my friend’s one-sentence review). I don’t really want to dwell too long on the nudity… however, at the risk of coming off as lecherous, I think a few sentences are deserved… especially since the nudity is nearly omnipresent. Horror movies are no strangers to a few gratuitous nipples… to be honest, that’s probably the biggest appeal of the genre for most adolescent males (at least until the internet came into its own). Thus, I wasn’t really surprised by the fact that there was nudity in this movie… though, I was a bit surprised by putting it right on front street (the movie starts mid sex-scene). What is a bit weird is the tone of the nudity. Referring to nudity as having a tone may seem a bit strange, but like everything else in a movie the filmmaker made a decision when he included it and therefore analysis is fair game. In the end, the use of nudity was tonally inconsistent. There were scenes where I felt like I was watching an erotic foreign film and in the next it felt like your run-of-the-mill gratuitous boob shot found in nearly every B horror movie. This may seem like a weird thing to focus on, but tonal inconsistency is one of the easiest ways to take someone out of the movie… whether it’s general tone or the tone of the nudity.

That’s a weird place to end on… oh well, what are you gonna do?

me.

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