Artsploitation Films have billed themselves as a company that releases films from new voices from around the world that play with genre conventions in unique ways. To me, they are a company worth watching because they dig deep to find unique genre films from places we might not expect. In this case, the film is The Devil Live Here and the country of origin is Brazil. Brazil isn’t well known globally as a producer of genre film. The country does have some genre cult classics to their name (the Coffin Joe films come to mind), but by and large they are more known for their Jiu Jitsu than for their cult flicks. The Devil Lives Here gives us a reason to pay closer attention.
The Devil Lives Here is about a group of young people on their way to visit a childhood friend. The arrive at the house and begin to re-connect and have a great time. The friend however has an ulterior motive for inviting his hold friends. His child hood home is haunted. Caretakers on the house have told him his whole life that the house has a wicked past and that once every 9 months he has to clear out for a night. The house was once run by a savage slave owner who was into black magic. The story goes that the spirit of a child remains in the home and that every 9 months the spirit roams free. The caretakers know what to do and in order to practice their ancient rite the house must be empty. This time however the house will be occupied by the owner and his friends in order to set the spirit free. What he doesn’t know is that truly dark forces are at work and his sympathy is misplaced. The group is in grave danger of the creepy evil kind.
Filmed well using a high quality video camera, The Devil Lives Here is visually satisfying. The whole back end of the film is darkly lit and the scenes play out in evocative sepia tones giving the film a unique visual flair. The run time is short, only 80 minutes long, so the film doesn’t over stay it’s welcome either. The characters are your typical horror movie archetypes for the most part but I’m okay with that. Thankfully the characters do seem to like each other and their friendships seem realistic. Nothing kills a horror movie faster for me then “friends” who spend the entire run time bickering and belittling each other. Thankfully that common problem is avoided by having charismatic characters that seem to enjoy each others company. The back of the box suggests that the film is “Brazil’s answer to Candyman.” I can see that comparison as the slave holder was a bee keeper and we are talking about vengeful spirits but I would liken the film more to Fulci’s films like The Beyond and House by the Cemetery. There’s a strange vibe in the film and the goings on are not fully explained. The main characters don’t fully realize what’s going on and so neither do we. That confused vibe along with the shadowy cinematography seems to be heavily influenced by Fulci. For my money, Fulci is a great film maker to riff off of so for me, it really worked. In fact the more strange the film got, the more engaged I became so that by the end of the film, I was 100% on board. The film is viceral without being overly graphic which I can appreciate. We didn’t need to “see” everything that happens to the characters to “feel” it.
Sure, The Devil Lives Here isn’t 100% original but it has it’s own vibe and visual language and I can see some hints at real talent behind the camera. I’d love to see what directors Rodrigo Gasparini and , do next with more confidence, money, and experimentation. Hopefully Artsploitation will pick up their next film so I can review it here!