By Jaime Pitillas

 | 2012 | 95 min. | Director: Francisco Disla Ferreira (El Indio) | Horror | Spanish with English subtitles

“The Devil’s Hole” is the only movie in the Chicago Latino Film Festival this year that was produced in the Dominican Republic. The film directed by Francisco Disla Ferreira (“El Indio”) is a tribute to those horror movies in which a group of young students discover a house in the woods, and of course, they all eventually start dying. Hundreds of movies boast this plot, but in this production the director tries to surprise the viewer with a mystical, Dominican, religious element, though he fails to give us anything original.

The film recounts the story of Sofía (Carlotta Carretero), a young goth girl, who with her friends, decides to visit an area of San Juan where a senior army officer of the dictator Rafael Trujillo murdered many people and fiddled with black magic. Once in the house, Sofía and her friends become trapped in a place where no one gets out alive.

The film is well-packed and hooks the viewer until the final minutes, when, all of a sudden Sofía’s mother, a character almost unexplored in the movie, becomes the trigger for the whole plot, creating a relationship between Trujillo, grandfather, mother, Sofia, and the devil that is not adequately developed. Until that moment, the plot and symbolisms are simple and understandable but, “The Devil’s Hole” suddenly becomes a war between good and evil, with God (or his soldier) against the devil. The concept is attractive, and it might had worked if it had been explained slowly, with tact and style, instead of coming out of the blue in the last five minutes.

The first version of the “Evil Dead” (Sam Raimi, 1981) and the recent “The Cabin in the Woods” (Drew Goddard, 2012) are successful examples of this genre. Who could imagine that behind that cabin was a crooked government experiment on those innocent young people? I cannot think of such a question rising from “The Devil’s Hole,” and that’s its problem: It is just another film about a haunted house in the woods.

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