Every nine months, brothers Sebastião and Luciano are tasked with carrying out an ancient ritual that keeps an evil entity only known as The Baron from returning. However, their night is interrupted when friends Ale, Magu, and Jorge decided to meet up with their friend Apolo at his family’s farm — the farm that The Baron claims as his own. Now the young friends are caught in the battle between good and evil.
“The Devil Lives Here” is a new independent horror movie from Brazil and similarly to the more recent Artsploitation titles that I’ve covered, I didn’t like it all that much. I didn’t hate it either. It’s a flawed movie that has some respectable and enjoyable parts but ultimately I like the purpose that the movie serves more than the movie itself.
To explain, “The Devil Lives Here” is a project made by a group of fresh filmmakers in terms of both the cast and crew. Writer and producer M.M. Izidoro, along with cinematographer Kaue Zilli, bring the most experience to the table, but even then, they’re still quite young in their careers. Then there are the co-directors, Rodrigo Gasparini and Dente Vescio, who found some early success with their short film “M is for Mail Box” where it is featured on “The ABCs of Death 2.5”. Overall though, “The Devil Lives Here” is the mark of their first foray into feature films. And the reason it’s an aspect I appreciate and enjoy is because Brazil isn’t exactly know for their horror movies (outside of Coffin Joe). Sure, maybe it’s not important in the grand scheme of a film’s quality, but it’s always nice to see what the newest generation of filmmakers are willing to do.
And while I didn’t like the movie entirely myself, “The Devil Lives Here” is a good start in genre films for the team. While the film carries the all too familiar cabin-in-the-woods scenario, more is brought out of the story with the use of Brazilian folklore and superstition.
Unfortunately for me, while I found that to be the most interesting aspect of the story, it does take a back seat to the setup of the kids going to a secluded cabin (it’s more like a plantation mansion) in the back country. I understand why they used this trope, and to be fair, they tried to do more with these characters and give them some depth. As opposed to having them be nothing more than cannon fodder, but it never worked as well as what they were trying for.
As an example, one of the young women is shown to have some mental issues which is exploited by the evil entity. In the grand scheme of the story, it’s not all that crucial. Especially when it’s shown that the spirits are able to manipulate others who are of sound mind. And if you were to remove that element of the character, you’d still have the same movie. It works for the character’s decisions and motivation, but again, it’s negated by the fact that other characters are affected just as easily. So again, an appreciated effort but the characters still come off as shallow and rather meaningless meat that exists solely to be butchered.
What they’re butchered by is the spirit of The Baron — a monstrous plantation owner whose spirit is kept at bay by the locals, but of course, is eventually unleashed because of stupid goddamn horny teenagers. Like everything else about the movie so far, this plot point is both good and bad. The good being that it’s a supernatural theme through voodoo and superstition, the bad being that it plays out like every other supernatural movie. It also doesn’t help that the mythology behind The Baron is muddled. Perhaps an error in translation, but overall, the movie never makes it entirely clear as to what this entity is trying to accomplish — is it simply pure evil that wants to destroy or does it want to be reborn? Or, to expand that further, does The Baron want to be reborn or does he want his son to be reborn? If that’s his motivation then why focus on killing everyone else?
“The Devil Lives Here” would have had a more impactful story had it been about the local villagers who maintain their heritage as they try to protect innocent people from what is basically the devil incarnate. Instead that story is forced into a tiresome, clichéd horror about kids going into a cabin and end up dead. Worst of all, the movie spends more time needlessly setting up those kids, while there’s no sufficient payoff, while blowing through the actual horror element and paying no mind to the inconsistencies in the story.
It’s an issue that leaves “The Devil Lives Here” as being merely passable. It’s not a terrible movie and you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time while watching it, but it doesn’t do enough to actually make itself memorable.