Review: ‘The Devil Lives Here,’ An Enticing Occult Film From Brazil

From the eclectic and vibrant South American nation of Brazil, directors Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio bring us the occult horror/thriller, The Devil Lives Here. The film’s story blends Brazilian folklore, elements of the occult, and the country’s legacy of black slavery making for a unique tale that is fascinating and well executed.

A trio of friends visits their friend Apolo at his family farmhouse. It’s supposed to be just another weekend of fun, but as Apolo soon reveals there are mysterious forces and history hidden deep within the farm. These forces go as far back when slavery was a blemish on the economies and politics of the Western Hemisphere. Through flashbacks, we are shown a tale about a beekeeper and his iron-fisted and sadistic rule over his slaves. He is simply known as “The Honey Baron” and his machinations are accentuated by a predilection for psychological torture and dominance. In one instance he forces one of his slaves, Bento, to drink a jar of freshly obtained honey. Bento’s mother, one whom he keeps in perpetual imprisonment is the mother of the slave.

These scenes are inter-cut with the story of our young characters and is specially important, because part of that story has lived on as legend, within the basement of this very house, where the story of “The Honey Baron” and his petulant behavior (and curse placed on his soul upon his death) is said to have taken place. Then there is a third narrative that involves two brothers Sebastiao and Luciano who are the two that keep the Baron’s evil spirit within the confines of the basement in a ritual that is performed annually. However, Apolo has other plans, that could have terrible consequences, as innocent as they may be, to unleash the forces within the basement. After all, the legend is nothing but a mere game to Apolo lacking the credibility Sebastiao and Luciano deeply believe in.

The Devil Lives Here is a tense and visceral film that offers a window to a part of the world that is rich in history and culture. The film’s complex narrative demands the viewer’s attention as nothing is laid out neatly and flashbacks inter-cut between the present fluidly, almost without warning.  It takes a second viewing, perhaps, to fully understand the scope of the film.  The film expertly synthesizes the country’s race relations with a tale that infuses elements of the occult and folklore while setting the film in a historical context. This is not your typical occult movie, nor is it your typical slasher film, which this film features some elements of that sub-genre. The Devil Lives Here is quite an achievement and is one that is both complex and enticing. You never really know what to expect here.

The Devil Lives Here is an Artsploitation Film from Brazil and is currently out on VOD and DVD. An award winning film, The Devil Lives Here, has toured around the world and made the festival rounds at such prodigious festivals as Sitges Film Festival, Morbid FilmFest, Brussels International Film Festival and was a winner for Best Foreign Film at  FilmQuest 2016