Directors: Rodrigo Gasparini, Dante Vescio
Writers: Rafael Baliú
Stars: Pedro Caetano, Pedro Carvalho, Mariana Cortines
Brazilian film O Diabo Mara Aqui (The Devil Lives Here) brings together both folklore and the occult against the backdrop of slavery. Opening with past events, we meet the Honey Baron and Bento and learn why they will be forever bound to one another. We are also immediately keyed into the fact that the Honey Baron is a slave owner who takes an obscene pleasure in abusing people physically, mentally and emotionally.
Switch to current day and two different storylines are playing out. One involves two brothers (Sebastio and Luciano) who’s family is tasked with returning to an old farm house every nine months, where Bento and the Honey Baron met their untimely deaths, to keep the spirits properly contained. The other involves three friends who are making their way to this farmhouse to spend the weekend with their friend who’s family owns the home. Initially, this is all a bit confusing, but once you get your bearings, it all mingles together wonderfully.
Ultimately, what we have are the usual suspects of horror films: the girl who is always looking for a good time (Magu), the girl who is inexplicably attuned to the supernatural happenings in the house (Alexandra), the dutiful boyfriend (Jorge) and the host (Apolo) who may, or may not, have hidden motives. As they all convene and have some drinks and play some games, Sebastio and Luciano are on their way to the house to ensure that the spirits of Bento and the Honey Baron are not set free. Of course, nothing goes as planned and each character finds themselves in a unique situation which they must fight their way out of.
As the past and present ebb and flow through one another, the mystery is expertly paced. As more and more secrets are revealed the score becomes increasingly and appropriately tense while some really cool camera angles are utilized. In a lot of ways, this is a paint by numbers horror movie, but the uniqueness of the story and the techniques used by directors Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio elevate it to something special.
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont