Merlin, Francisco Gaspa. Brazil, 2018, 98 mins.
Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD meets Lloyd Kaufman's POULTRYGEIST, with a seasoning of Michele Soavi's DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE in this bloody bananas Brazilian folktale.
Naïve foundling teenager Clara's (Carol Aragão) eventful and hostile first excursion into the nearby village concludes with her coming into possession of a demonic spell book known as Cipriano's Black Book. The book's dying owner warns Clara to burn this Necronomicon of black magic after entreating her to perform a ritual from its pages to aid his soul passing peacefully into the afterlife in exchange for a bag of gold coins. Unfortunately for Clara, the villagers, and ultimately all of humanity (but not for us viewers), the lure of gold leads to tragic consequences and Clara's increasingly desperate attempts to redeem the situation by resorting to darker and darker magic from her book of spells results in the boundaries between life and death blurring amidst a bloodbath of hellish retribution.
For a modest budget, director Rodrigo Aragão delivers a heady intoxicating cornucopia of nightmarish set-pieces and some gloppy practical gore effects in a (quite literally) all hell breaking loose final third featuring demonic chicken embryos, reanimated corpses, an exploding head and demonic disembowelment.
Before unleashing his KFC bargain bucket of blood, Aragão’s magical realism tale lands a couple of critical punches towards religious hypocrisy and a few stabs at socio-political themes. None of which detract from the essence of this cautionary terror tale warning of the potential perils of selling your soul and renouncing your moral beliefs.
It's a rollicking yarn, directed with maniacal assurance and infectious gusto, and given Aragão's resources, quite a coup (or rather coop considering the demonic fowl he unleashes).
****(out of 5*)