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rochefort [Celluloid 10.01.12] Mexico horror

A family vacation turns briefly traumatic when Adolfo (Alan Martinez) and his sister Sara (Michele Garcia) separate from dad Felix (Francisco Barreiro) and mom Sol (Laura Caro) to go explore some caves in the hill overlooking the family's chosen rest stop. After a long day that tests the parents' sanity, the missing kids are delivered home by the police. But Adolfo and Sara don't seem the same, and Sol and Felix soon come to the dreadful conclusion that someone must have done something horrible to their children. When their suspicions put them on the trail of a creepy simpleton named Lucio (David Arturo Cabezud), Mom and Dad commit to doing whatever it takes to set things right, but the mysterious hill where the children disappeared is a cursed place, and things are definitely not what they seem.

Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano has become something of an Austin favorite in the last few years, making a splash with horror films "Cold Sweat" at South by Southwest and "Penumbra" at last year's Fantastic Fest, and the folks at this year's FF showed their appreciation by giving "Here Comes the Devil" pretty much every award in the horror category. It's a good film, too, a solidly plotted and performed horror pic in a very 70's mold, punctuated with the occasional moment of legitimately shocking violence. What it does best, and probably the reason for its awards sweep, is create a crescendo of dread that Bogliano's script manages to sustain for most of its running time. Sol spends the movie being a good mother and trying to learn the truth about what happened on that fateful night, and there's a chance you might figure out the answers to her questions before she does. But you might also find that this creeping inevitability increases the unease rather than dispels it.

The central story is basically a tight, too-bloody-for-prime-time episode of "Night Gallery", and is let down by only two things, really, the first being a fairly unnecessary opening scene that belongs in a different movie, and later there are a couple of expository moments where the kind old gas station attendant fills everybody in on the hill's spooky history. Without these bits, it's entirely possible that "Here Comes the Devil" would be far more than just a reasonably effective drive-in chiller, and might instead be one of the year's best horror dramas. As is, it's put together well enough to be worth a look.

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