Argentinian director Adrian Bogliano might be one of the most talented horror directors you’ve never heard of. He’s sometimes awkward but almost always subversive in a genre mostly known for stultifying formulas. He recalls a time when horror and sexuality weren’t afraid to fumble and clutch at each other. I’ll Never Die Alone, released in 2008, is probably the only 70s rape/revenge movies I’ve seen that understands Virgin Spring, portraying sexual predation with the detachment it deserves. It’s a ruthlessly shot sequence that no one should have to see and it’s sickening that it’s not part of a better movie. I don’t recommend it. Cold Sweat, about a girl soaked in nitroglycerin, is a bit of a goof, but Penumbra is a clever mystery with an even cleverer follow-through (you can read my so-spoiler-free-it’s-almost-useless review here).
So it’s no surprise that Bogliano’s latest movie is such a disjointed throwback to the horror of the 70s, complete with smash zooms and saturated grindhouse color. The subject at hand is the impossible dilemma of parenthood, reconciling sexuality and innocence in the context of a Catholic culture (Bogliano shot it in Mexico, which gives it a stronger religious subtext than his Argentinian movies). The only way you can bring children into the world is by fucking, and then you have to protect them as best as you can from the same sin that conceived them. It’s the juxtaposition of evil deeds and good intentions. Or is it the other way around? Throw in some demonic possession, gratuitous lesbian sex, and plenty of blood.
As the parents, Francisco Barreiro and the wholesome/sultry Laura Caro carry the movie admirably (it’s a shame the child actors couldn’t pull their weight a little better). Here Comes the Devil doesn’t have much focus, or even much coherence, and as it wends its way along a torturous route to a dark empty nowhere, you could say it’s following a state of unease more than a plot. But it’s also clearly the work of a talented director with a distinctive approach and no interest in the usual formula.