Thursday, October 19, 2017

#2,443. The Devil Lives Here (2016)

Directed By: Rodrigo Gasparini, Dante Vescio

Starring: Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines

Trivia 1: Won the award for Best Villain at the 2016 Cinefantasy International Fantastic Cinema Festival

Trivia 2:  The movie was also released as The Fostering

Well over a hundred years ago, a ruthless Brazilian landowner / amateur beekeeper known as The Honey Baron (Ivo Müller) mistreated (and occasionally murdered) the slaves who worked on his estate. He was so cruel, in fact, that he even forced himself on the mother of his most trusted slave, Bento (Sidney Santiago), who soon after became pregnant with his child. 

But moments before giving birth, Bento’s mother, a master of the occult, murdered the Honey Baron and put a curse on his immortal soul. To strengthen this curse, Bento’s mother then sacrificed her newborn (the Honey Baron’s son) by driving a spike into its torso, thereby dooming both father and child to re-experience their own deaths for the rest of eternity.

Cut to modern day. The land once owned by the Honey Baron now belongs to Apolo (Pedro Carvalho) and his family, who nonetheless have agreed to vacate the premises one day every year so that Bento’s descendants can perform a ritual to keep the curse from fading away. 

This year, however, Apolo has vowed to stay put, and invites his best friend Jorge (Diego Goulart) to spend the weekend with him. Joined by his girlfriend Alexandra (Mariana Cortines) and cousin Maria Augusta (Clara Verdier), Jorge makes the long journey into the country, oblivious to the danger that will befall him and the others should the curse on the Honey Baron somehow expire.

Released in 2016, The Devil Lives Here is a Brazilian horror / fantasy that takes the time to build its own mythology; along with several flashback sequences of the Honey Baron and Bento (which play at random intervals throughout the film), directors Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio also follow Sebastião (Pedro Caetano) and Luciano (Felipe Frazão), two of Bento’s descendants, as they prepare for the yearly ritual, unaware that the property will still be occupied when they attempt to perform it.

In addition, Jorge’s girlfriend Alexandra is a clairvoyant, and the moment she sets foot in the house she hears voices coming from the basement, telling her to do whatever is necessary to sabotage the annual ceremony. Each one of these perspectives is interesting in its own right, but together they make the film’s central story of racism and the evil it breeds more poignant than it might otherwise have been.

The Devil Lives Here does begin to fall apart towards the end, when it plays fast and loose with its own rules (we’re never quite sure what actions are required to keep the Honey Baron from taking human form, and a late twist involving the supposed “reincarnation” of the baby doesn’t make a bit of sense). But for most of its 80-minute runtime The Devil Lives Here is a tense, atmospheric horror flick, and has me curious as to what other Brazilian genre films might be out there for the taking.

1 comment:

James Robert Smith said...

I intensely dislike films that set up a system of logic (even if it's supernatural) and then dispense with its own system somewhere within the storyline. Thanks for the warning. I'll avoid this one.