The story is that of a married couple who lose track of their kids one evening on a mountainside. One night later, their kids turn up but they seem…different. What exactly has changed is something that their parents, teachers, doctors and social workers try to piece together. What few people besides their mother seem to be putting together is that whatever is affecting them is not a natural change.
This film wears its lunacy like a badge of honour. Not only does it use campy quick-zooms to mock itself, but it comes at the audience with one of the most painfully loud soundtracks I have ever heard. Seriously, this film makes TRANSFORMERS 2 sound like mumblecore. As if the notion of missing and psychologically damaged kids isn’t disturbing enough, the film continually taunts us by only telling us that “something is wrong”. It keeps putting creepier and creepier pieces in place to complete the puzzle – culminating with a babysitter recounting a night that plays like that videotape in THE RING.
It’s all very abrasive and violent, and I’m still not sure how to take it all. Clearly the film isn’t out to be taken seriously (otherwise it wouldn’t employ those silly zooms), but the campiness of those moments never disarm it completely.
I’m reminded of a member of my audience who spoke up during the Q&A period after the film saying that he was never shocked or scared by the film, but that with all of these crazy touches, he actually found it funny. Now surely, it’s easy to hear a person react to a film about disturbed children and panicked parents by seeing the humour in it and think “That’s fucked”. But I think the guy is on to something.
Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano clearly doesn’t seem interested in making us recoil in fear from the disturbing story as it’s written. He seems to want to throw us off. Perhaps in keeping us off-balance he can make the most disturbing bits more palatable. Or perhaps he does see it all as some sort of sick joke, in which case I’m not laughing.
This isn’t to suggest that the film is stomach-turning the same way that COME OUT AND PLAY was yesterday. It’s just to openly wonder what it was the director wanted to do here. Did he want to keep the audience off-kilter? Did he want to make it even more shocking? Did he – as the audience member suggested – want to make the audience laugh at its pure ostentatiousness? I have no clue. I just know that for better or for worse, HERE COMES THE DEVIL is going to stick with me for a while.
So in that case, well-played Mr. Bogliano.