FACE OF THE DEVIL (LA CARA DEL DIABLO, 2014)
Directed by Frank Pérez-Garland.
Written by Vanessa Saba.
Starring Vania Accinelli, Sergio Gjurinovic, Vanessa Saba, Alexa Centurion, Maria Fernanda Valera, Nicolás Galindo, Carla Arriola, Guillermo Castañeda, Javier Valdez, Ismael Contreras
Find out more about this film here!
A group of young vacationers head to a tropical hotel in Peru for the week and laugh off the local legend of an ancient entity known to take various forms and lures its victims in with a haunting whistle. But when the vacationers begin disappearing, they soon come to realize this legend might be true.
FACE OF THE DEVIL aka LA CARA DEL DIABLO is a formulaic slasher film, through and through. The thing is, it follows the classic slasher in the woods path so well that it almost reinvents it. Yes, the killers are picked off one by one. Yes, the identity of the killer is foggy at first. You don’t know if the killer is one of the campers, the hotel manager, or if the legend is true and it keeps that mystery running for a good long time. But this film is wonderfully paced, offers up some suspenseful and memorable kills, and manages to end on a surprising note where it isn’t precisely clear as to who will live and who will die. The film feels both familiar and surprising, like finding a comfortable, old sweatshirt you used to wear and then finding a twenty-dollar bill in it.
Though this is a Spanish speaking film and it’s always tough to both read the lines and judge the delivery, the acting is solid. There aren’t too many characters where there isn’t time to develop some kind of personality and story for each. The effects are at a minimum. Instead, director Frank Perrez-Garland takes full advantage of the lush and tangled jungle environment to amp up the mystery and tension. Some of the set pieces, such as a seemingly romantic canoe trip to a lake is turned sinister with some fun use of perspective, speeding up the camera, and clever edits.
Slasher fans should take note of FACE OF THE DEVIL, which was released back in 2014, but I sure as hell don’t remember it. It’s aged well and doesn’t feel like it was made close to six years ago. FACE OF THE DEVIL has seen all of the best slasher films and both honors those camping horror films while feeling fresh and scary.