Saturday, September 29, 2012

Raindance Opening Night: HERE COMES THE DEVIL

Before the film is an improv troop to warm up the audience - and they are only mildly funny... but they do a pun-filled skit that uses the titles of Hitchcock films which might help me fill my class at the end of the festival on Hitchcock movies. Since I’m not being paid to do these classes, the audience headcount becomes my “payment”. After the comedy, the horror!

After the blog entry on depressing and odd films, the festival opens with a genre film. A very interesting and original horror film from Mexico called HERE COMES THE DEVIL. It opens with two naked women in bed together - one lesbian and one curious. Afterwards the curious woman feels guilty and strange... and then there is an unexpected knock at the door. The lesbian woman answers... and it’s a crazed serial killer who chops off all of her fingers and puts them in a bag! There is a fight, the serial killer is wounded, and we follow him as he drags himself back to this odd rock formation.

Years later, a family on holiday stops at the base of the same rock formation. The two tween kids - a boy and a girl - ask if they can explore the rocks. The parents tell them to be back in an hour... and once the kids have gone the parents begin fooling around in the car. They haven’t had sex in ages because the kids are always around. Afterwards they fall asleep in the car... and when they wake up the kids have not returned. They go to the police and report the disappearance, and then check into a motel to wait for word. The next morning the kids are discovered walking down the street - but they seem... different. More sullen than usual. Hard to tell with kids that age. They head home, but mom thinks the kids are really acting strange and...

More would spoil it for you, but the film is very disturbing and the filmmaker compared it to Weir’s PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK and Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW - which are two of my favorite low-key horror films. There are also traces of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and COLUMBO and THE EXORCIST and CARRIE. The thing I liked about it is that it was a completely original horror film - not vampires or zombies or anything like that... but a cursed *place* and anyone who goes there is changed. What ends up great about this concept is that when mom and later dad go to the rock formation we worry that *they* will not return the same. The movie is very disturbing and gives us a look at Mexican middle class life, rocked by terrors both human and supernatural. Great performances by all - and there’s even a kind of Mexican Michael Berryman type weirdo who lives in a trailer at the base of the rock formation... and may have some sinister hobbies. I mentioned in my tweets that the film had more nudity than I expected from a Catholic country, but it also has the sort of haunting and disturbing horror that makes you worried about people you *think* you know - what if they have been to this rock formation and the evil has rubbed off on them?

There was an afterparty at Café Paris with The Real Tuesday Weld playing. I met Josh, a documentary filmmaker from Oregon who has a film at the festival and a guy who follows me on Facebook and has a short in the student films. Because I was tired and jet lagged - a couple of bees pretty much did me in and I went back to my hotel room to see if I could sleep even though my bodyclock was saying it was daytime. Eventually I fell asleep...

- Bill

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