Review: O DIABO MORA AQUI (THE FOSTERING), An Impressive, If Not Subdued, Debut Horror From Brazil

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Review: O DIABO MORA AQUI (THE FOSTERING), An Impressive, If Not Subdued, Debut Horror From Brazil

Three friends - Jorge, Ale and Magu - join their friend, Apolo, at his old farmhouse for the weekend. Old tales tell of a malicious Barão do Mel (Honey Baron) who owned the property during the height of the slave trade and had a son with one of the slaves.

As young men are wont to do, Apolo tries to impress Magu by holding a ceremony in the basement of the farmhouse that would resurrect the Honey Baron's infant son. At the same time, though, brothers Sebastião and Luciano have resurrected their own relative to defeat the Honey Baron once and for all. Our young visitors find themselves smack in the middle of a dangerous night when evil may rise again or be vanquished forever.

As the story goes, O Diabo Mora Aqui (The Fostering) producer Marcel Izidoro had this script, a mix of Brazilian urban legends (the entity Bento, the villain and his son) and the country's history; from the honey barons and the slave trade to AfroBrazilian religion. Because of other commitments, he could not take on directing it himself. He needed a kick-ass director to shoot it. He found two. After seeing their ABCs of Death submission M Is for Mailbox, Marcel brought in directors Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio and made O Diabo Mora Aqui their impressive feature film debut.

The four youths are likable. Apolo is dickish enough to get them into this mess but you never end up hating anyone and wishing for them to die. There is what I feel is a misplaced or ill-timed sex scene late in the film. Perhaps it was a stress reliever. Perhaps I need to put myself and my dates in peril more often if this is the kind of result I should expect. Joking aside, it felt out of place and not in tune with the peril of the final act. Still, mental notes were taken.

Ivo Müller's Honey Baron is a serpent of a villain. When they were designing his beekeeping costume, they kept the middle age monk-styled head dressing, which adds a really cool esthetic to the film, but wanted to go with something a little Nazi-esque with the rest of his costume. With his narrow facial features and slicked back hair, Müller's Honey Baron is uncomfortably intimate with his prey. He is unsettling at best.

With the exception of a cult icon like Coffin Joe, Izidoro recognizes that Brazil is not known for a high volume of genre fare. Culturally, Izidoro tells me that Brazil is a Christian nation so your first steps into horror must be humbled. He does promise that his next project, if it be a continuation into a planned collective of projects called Urbania or not, will take it to the next level.

What O Diabo Mora Aqui lacks in violence and gore it makes up for in style and lavish color. Aside from the picturesque plantation building and gorgeous Brazilian landscape, Gasparini and Vescio inject color wherever they can into their scenes. When you think of Brazil you think of Carnival, and colors and vibrancy, and even though the color of blood may not flow, it is still a very colorful film.

For a debut feature film, O Diabo Mora Aqui demonstrates Gasparini and Vescio's skills in direction and presentation. With a modest budget and quick shooting schedule, there were production restrictions from the start. Restrictions aside, the pair have a strong grasp on what makes a film look good and they made the most of what they had available to them. It marks a promising debut from this directing duo and anticipation is high, waiting to see what they can come up with when given more time and money.

Bigger, better and bloodier things I hope.

(O Diabo Mora Aqui debuted in Sitges and recently played at Morbido, where I missed it due to schedule conflicts. My thanks to producer Marcel Izidoro for hooking a brother up.)

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Dante VescioMarcel IzidoroMorbido2015O Diabo Mora AquiRodrigo GaspariniSitges 2015The Fostering

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