Directed by: Rodrigo Gasparini, Dante Vescio
Cast: Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines
The film opens with a look at a few friends on the road, traveling. They’re headed for a buddies secluded lot of land where an aged farmhouse holding something not-quite-right waits to welcome them. Before our focal group even arrives at the farmhouse we see that there may be some suspect practices taking place under that roof. It looks like Apolo, who owns the farmhouse, may be into some witch craft, or atypical spiritual practices, at best.
Initially this little gathering goes smoothly. It’s fairly uneventful, with a few drinks being consumed, a few silly games being played. The group is just continuing to get to know one another on deeper levels, and that all works to in aiding the viewer to understand the characters and their motives. And Apolo has some interesting motives.
What was once a trip to chill and hang, quickly becomes a dance with angered spirits. Dabbling in the unknown always has the potential to produce some terrifying occurrences, but doing so while out in the sticks, with little access to anyone who might be able to provide assistance should assistance be needed, just sounds like a really, really bad plan. As The Devil Lives Here shows us, this is no exception: these 20-somethings should have left the mystical mumbo jumbo to someone else.
I’m not out to axe any and all surprise that the film offers, because it does offer some surprises, and a few of them are certified horrifying. What lives in this abode is not pleasant, and whatever it is, it’s been festering on hatred for too many decades to count. Summon something like that and you know that the shit is about to hit the fan. And we don’t want to spoil said shit.
Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio direct from an original story by M.M. Izidoro, and it’s a winner. If you prefer to dummy down the intensity of the story you’ll be able to view it as a simple haunted house/possession tale. If you choose to focus on the wrinkles of the story, and the legend discussed by the film’s protagonists, you’ve got a ghost story with chilling layers just waiting to be peeled away. The film may follow a somewhat standard structure, but the details of the narrative and the manner in which Gasparini and Vescio flesh out the characters ultimately enables The Devil Lives Here to usurp the standard ghost story.
Technically speaking, the flick also looks superb, the cuts coming at the right moments, the beats timed perfectly. The low lighting and grimy image of the film serve as a nod to grindhouse features — think of the aesthetics in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, clean that image up just a tiny bit, and that’s about the look we get from The Devil Lives Here.
We get some very well-rounded performances from a group who may not be too familiar, but deserve every bit of respect that this pic may lead to garnering. The relationships feel genuine, and the tension that often threatens to drive a wedge between certain characters is far from contrived. There’s an all-around strength to the chemistry of the film’s players, and I can get behind that.
Be prepared for a somewhat slow start. The first half of the picture is spent introducing everyone and positioning the pieces of the conflict in perfect order. From the halfway point on, however, all Hell breaks loose, and it makes for a dark and tense adventure into the unknown.