Over a hundred years ago there was an evil Brazilian plantation owner known as the Honey Baron (Ivo Müller) who exploited his slaves abominably, taking sexual advantage of the women and doling out violence to the men. The legend has it that he was beaten by one of the slaves who conducted a ritual to ensure this evil individual would never trouble the world again, but as time has gone by and the people of the country forgot about their dark past the story has been considered to be less and less serious, to the point where it's a joke to believe in all that mumbo-jumbo. Three young people have been invited out to the mansion where this was supposed to have taken place, but they will soon find history can repeat...
Mention Brazilian horror movies to the fright fan and their mind will immediately go to José Mojica Marins, that one-man whirlwind of creativity who spawned a host of shockers all of which fuelled his self-styled image of the most wicked man in Brazil, which was partly a put-on for showbiz reasons, and partly a demeanour he was happy to live up to when audiences witnessed what he got up to in his work. Some regarded him as a bit of a joke, but on this evidence his influence might have had a chance to endure as The Devil Lives here was effectively a fever dream that its directors raced through with little respect to making enough sense for the viewer to craft a readily understandable plot.
That said, if you wanted your horror to plunge straight into the chaotic as a particularly vivid nightmare might do, that sense of a film out of control of its makers' intentions was definitely to be discerned here, even if simultaneously that also felt as if that was the effect they wanted to deliver in the first place. It started out mixing flashbacks to the Honey Baron with the three modern visitors to the area driving to the mansion where they would meet the fourth member of their party who had invited them there, but there were in addition a couple of other characters, young men who in the opening ten minutes appeared to have resurrected a corpse buried in a shallow grave - or is this some entity?
Like Marins, the directors here, Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio, two newcomers on the international horror scene, were attracted to the arcane, that need for ritual that would bring about some major changes to the world (or just the film), and so it was this devolved from what looked like it was going to be a Brazilian Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Evil Dead into something that looked very much its own thing, as connected to the loose, not exactly populist chiller tradition of the area. What might have been more straightforward in more experienced hands built up quite the head of steam of outright, unfocused bafflement if you were not paying attention to the abundance of crazed detail thrown at the audience that many would find too much like hard work.
Still, to raise the tension to the levels of hysteria that it did was impressive in itself, and the production had a significant contribution from a largely young cast, as if this had been a project for film students to make on weekends that somehow escaped onto the world's cinematic stage. The actual impetus for the mayhem was not really that original, just to carry out that aforementioned ritual to bring back the Honey Baron and for him to father a child, which meant a sequence of sex magic that seemingly arrived out of the blue considering what was happening around it. That cast went from bright, flippant young things to truly committed victims of forces beyond their ken, and you could not fault them for getting into their roles, from the early scene of charades to the psychotic but medicated girl who discovers her madness is attracting the evil like a lightning rod, medication or no medication. That lack of coherence could be a flaw, but likewise it could be what made it distinctive. Music by Pedro Salles Santiago.