Here Comes the Devil, which just swept the Horror Features category at the Fantastic Fest 2012 awards is, without doubt, an Adrian Garcia Bogliano film. Full of beautiful women, eye popping compositions, and dread drenched suspense, Bogliano's creative ownership over the film is unmistakable. But Here Comes The Devil is so much more than the above implies. This is no mere thrill ride exploiting sex and violence.
Here Comes The Devil may well be a new classic of the genre showcasing, as it does, a talent in full stride. This is ferociously unsettling stuff conjuring an impressive spectrum of ideological specters as parents grieve, children commit unspeakable acts, and madness descends on a marriage in deep crisis. The film ends on a harsh twist that will leave all but the most jaded viewers breathless. It haunted me while I looked into the director's eyes during this interview. How could such a kind, even sad eyed, and unfailingly affable, man call forth such dark cinematic power?
TWITCH: There's a stark contrast between this and your other films. It's much less claustrophobic but conversely far more disturbing.
ADRIAN GARCIA BOGLIANO: Thank you very much. It's my intention to make films that are different one from another. Penumbra seemed to disappoint some people precisely because it was not enough like Cold Sweat. The pacing for instance in those two films is very different. I understand that. It's hard for an audience to make that shift. They want to look at you as a brand rather than a creative entity sometimes. One unique aspect to Here Comes the Devil is that it's the first film I've shot in Mexico. For instance that alone affects everything from the way they actors work to the way they speak. And our location in Mexico was a small town that is looked at as very strange, even in Mexico itself.
FRANCISCO BARREIRO: And unlike Penumbra and Cold Sweat we shot everywhere. It didn't take place in only one place. And that was part of the idea from the beginning.
TWITCH: Were you afraid of the material? This really strong, demanding stuff.
FRANCISCO BARREIRO: The script was amazing, I wanted to do it right away even though I knew it would be exhausting, and it was. Adrian is exploring some really dark things, but he 's doing it here with a real honesty. These are very fleshed out characters. and they grow and change all through the piece. I knew this was going to be something that would challenge me deeply. In our culture the loss of a child has a special significance. I can't really describe it to you except to maybe use the word devastating or crushing. I'm in a vise grip in this film because my family is in danger. There is nothing more important in my culture than family. The film is so honest and concerned with those things it made all the harder more unpleasant stuff, not easier to shoot but worthwhile.
TWITCH: So Laura Caro, why would let this man torture you? Where did that trust comes from?
LAURA CARO: [laughs] I just trusted him. He's a very warm soul, I liked working with him a lot. He knows what he wants and needs from us as actors. Besides it wasn't him it was the devil!
TWITCH: But he devil and the director are the same thing according to many people.
LC: Not him! Adrian is exactly what you see when you first meet him. I don't know where on earth he comes up with this stuff because he's nothing like his movies. Except, maybe, that he is complex, he knows what he wants, he's open to ideas, he's prepared but able to shift around at the last minute and do something new. Those things should work against one another but they don't. And he creates these complex characters. This is a movie as much about husbands and wives and fathers and mothers as about being a horror movie.
TWITCH: There have been an inordinate number of good horror films to comes from Mexico, Latin America and Spain. But yours don't skirt their origins. They don't clean their locations up as much, they seem steeped in the culture and social fabric a little more. Do you see yourselves as ambassadors?
AGB: I think it does horror films well to have a specific culture they take place in. We spoke with a number of other directors in Argentina that want to make small indie horror films and they talked about the temptation to make films in English, or in more ambiguous looking places in the hopes of an easier sell to the US. I said I thought that was a bad idea. If you start from your own culture you can often build something more believable. For instance Asian horror, J Horror were something, I think, that the audience could take more seriously because they took their origins seriously.
TWITCH: I think I see some similarities between you and J Horror especially Kurosawa Kiyoshi because beyond the supernatural elements in his films there was always the landscape, the architecture of this decaying post-boom Japan and sense of isolation in the culture. I yours there are lots of wide open spaces but they feed directly into the themes.
LC: Yes, for instance, there are things about Japanese horror that are universal. The hidden face, the long black hair have an impact. But they have even more impact if you understand why Japanese culture has adopted them into their horror tales. In our film the Latin American emphasis on the importance of family and children is really there and it's present in the way that our characters interact with the land, possessions etc. Wide open spaces can be very frightening. They seem to separate us from each other. That is one thing you get in the film is the constant pull of the cave on everyone.
TWITCH: It's also funny that in the States the writing is on the wall for those of us needing to play catch up on Mexican and Latin American culture. Caucasians are becoming a minority in some ways. You see a little nod in the prevailing film culture and a lot of business stuff going on behind the scenes. But it's odd to me that Will Ferrell's spoof Casa de mi Padre is still the only recent major release film of it's kind that I can think of.
AGB: There's still a huge bias against reading subtitles in the US. It's less than before but it's still a fallback for people that they don't like to watch movies with subtitles. In Latin America we are thoroughly used to subtitles. It seems odd to us that such a multicultural country as the US would be so homogenous in the way it approaches cinema but then again this is largely an economic thing. What's odd for me is to go into video stores and see my movies on the shelf with Bergman in the foreign film section rather than next to Craven in the Horror Movie section. No way am I comparing myself to those two but obviously my films are experienced first and foremost by most viewers as Horror rather than Foreign Language, at least I work hard to make that happen.
TWITCH: As extreme as your films are in terms of content they seem rooted morally and spiritually, not just in Mexican or Latin American culture, but in terms of their humanity. Characters are more than meat and they exist as something other devices to twist and turn the narrative. What guides you as a spiritual or moral being as you create these stories?
AGB: It's interesting, I am not a religious person by nature. This is certainly not a film intended to criticize religion or spirituality or the need people feel to look for God. In fact I felt the need to recognize how important that religion is in Mexican culture. Some of the religious references in the film have to do with very problematic stuff. For instance we reference this cult at different points that is an actual blood cult. We haven't had a problem with people thinking the film was a bad film in that sense and I'm grateful. I would hate to be misunderstood in that way. In fact I think if people get anything out of it then it seems to be the idea that we need to be aware of evil and what it can do once we let it inside, once we stop guarding against it. I'm not the devil, you're not the devil, but we don't have to be to destroy everything we love.
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