<<<[SPOILERS AHEAD, KIDS]>>>
An unfair reason that I didn’t hate this movie is because of its setting’s proximity to where I live. I don’t live in Ventura county, but I did live there as an infant and I currently live about two hours away (in the same area code). The dialect that the kids in the movie use is almost identical to the one that I’ve grown up with (I live in heavily Latino town as well). I’m not going to go so far as to say that the 805 neck tattoos made me feel at home, but I’m not going to say they didn’t feel familiar. There’s a scene about halfway through the movie when I recognized the basketball courts where the two main characters were playing as the elementary school two blocks away from the office of the doctor who performed my husband’s surgery.
I mean, whoooooaaaa, man.
Not sure how I would rate the film on an objective scale, but it’s a lot stronger than P.A. 4–because honestly, what the hell was that? The CGI was a little meh (demon-dilated pupils and some unconvincing animal abuse) but you know. At least it wasn’t boring and the two central characters were halfway interesting.
Jesse and Hector are a couple of besties who have just graduated from high school. Hector gets a go pro camera which they use to do things like ride down the stone staircase in a plastic laundry basket. They live in an apartment building in Oxnard, CA, and Jesse’s bedroom connects via ventilation system to Anna, the witch who lives downstairs. Anyway…Hector decides to use the Go-Pro to examine some of the weird-ass noises going on down there. What’s going on? Naked lady letting scary naked-old-witch lady paint a witchy symbol on her belly.
After that happens, they start kind of poking at her a little bit (hilarious part: they convince a little kid to knock on her door, and when they coax him into calling her to draw her out, he yells “BRUJA!!!” which is the Spanish word for witch). She gets cranky and says something like, “You don’t even KNOW what’s going to happen to you.” Ooooooo….Soon afterward, Anna is murdered by their classmate, Oscar, who was valedictorian but has been acting kinda weird lately, right?
After she’s killed, Hector and Jesse sneak into her apartment to look for clues and steal her creepy notebook stuffed with spells and demonic diagram-thingies. Inside they find a picture of a portal that can cross dimensions, but can only take you to “unholy places” (FORESHADOWING!!!). Jesse also finds out that he has a bunch of new abilities, like throwing gangsters across parking lots and more or less flying from the second story window to the courtyard of his apartment building. In the midst of his romping and viral youtube-video making, however, Oscar shows up again (he’s been hiding in the witched-out basement all along). Oscar has gone possessed-pupils nuts, shows Jesse a bite on his arm that matches one that Jesse has too, and then improbably jumps off the steeple of a church to kill himself.
Party pooper much?
It becomes pretty obvious where this is all going with Jesse at this point. It’s not quite as fun to watch a flesh-and-blood dude act demon possessed as it is to watch the gradual build of things moving around the room by themselves like in the earlier films, but we do get those payoffs occasionally. There’s one scene where Hector, Jesse, and their friend Marisol are playing with one of those “Simon” toys from the 90s and it starts answering questions that they ask by either flashing the green “yes” or the red “no”. Jesse’s Grandma comes in while they’re playing with it and basically says, “Oh hell no, fuck this.” Basically. Or the religious abuela version of that.
You know–those things!
<<<<[SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!!!--THIS IS THE THING THAT MAKES THE MOVIE COOL IF NOTHING ELSE.]>>>>
So apparently the coven is marking all these boys for their coven demon-army to do…I don’t know? Take over the world I guess? Hector just feels bad that his friend is going bonkers. Once Jesse’s gone full-rampage, the witches kidnap him and take him to perform what I can only assume is a demon-sealing ritual on him. Hector, Oscar’s gangster brother, his gangster friend, and his friend Marisol go to the house (in Calabasas?) where the coven is to rescue Jesse.
And yes. You do get to see witches shot in the chest with shotguns. But not enough, I think.
Hector is the last one standing as he’s pursued by the roaring, knife-wielding coven and demon-possessed Jesse. He goes through one of the Freddy-foreshadowed portals and ends up in the end of the first Paranormal Activity movie. So we get to see possessed Katie murder Micah before Jesse follows Hector through the door and kills him as well.
Yeah, I just ruined the ending, but it is the most fun part of the movie, IMO. You know, save watching Jesse’s grandma sing Spanish songs after shooting tequila with the boys. It’s kind of nice to see the story from a Latino perspective because a lot of the characters actually take what is happening at face value instead of all that, “There’s gotta be a logical explanation durrdurr,” horse-shit.
I guess these movies, and this take in particular, kind of also kind of reel me in (PUNS!) because I come from a background of people who truly believe in the spirit realm. Ironically, that made demons and the like less terrifying, because as a Christian teenager you go–HA! I’m on the WINNING team! Naive, yes, but it really helped me at 3am…and the time I woke up to the bed shaking when I was halfway through reading The Exorcist before realizing that we were having an earthquake. But that’s another story.