I’ve got a great idea! Let’s—you and me—make a movie. We’ll get a camera and go around until we’ve shot enough film to fill, say, 87 minutes. It doesn’t really matter what we film, it could be a kid getting off a school bus or dead possums by the side of the road. You can film me sleeping, and I’ll film you smoking and watching television. I’ll focus on the tv for a few minutes, and you keep changing the channels so people will have to guess what our statement is. We can edit it in a Cuisinart and enter it in film festivals. Of course, we’re going to have to come up with a quirky name, like Killing Cupcakes in Time for Yom Kippur. You in?
Devil Come to Hell and Stay Where You Belong is a folie à deux from filmmakers Massimilian and Nina Breeder. It allegedly documents a couple’s trip from New York to California, starting at the end of the trip in Grand Isle, LA. So…a non-linear documentary that jumps back and forth between locations. There is no dialogue (it’s unfair to expect a review to have more words than there are in a script).
The film is a compilation of scenes that are related only by the two people—the Breeders—in them. A buffalo walks down the road at Yellowstone. Waves break at Big Sur. There’s lots of walking on beaches, up hills, through fields, all with the wind blowing through their hair. There are close-ups of dead animals by the side of the road, covered with flies, and live seals on the beach, covered with flies. People look at the seals and take pictures. Do you know how weird seals sound when they’re beached?
We see Nina snapping photos of a dead deer; Nina and Massimilian attend some races, watch television, engage in sex, and boat on a lake. There are motel signs, motel doors, gas stations. Are we just seeing random images or is there a theme here that I’m not deep enough to appreciate? There are scenes that are haunting because they are unexplained. The couple climb a hill of something—shale, ash, what? There are close-ups of her scratching and him shaving, but neither are as interesting as the screen going dark which it frequently does.
After the first hour I began to think I’d gone mad and shuddered to realize there was 27 minutes to go. Oh, look. He’s got some kind of scrape and she’s cleaning it. Is that a cowboy? Dead armadillo. Las Vegas. Casino, long hall. Repeated scenes of people either dressing or undressing or maybe just packing and unpacking; it’s hard to tell. Oh there’s a dead….something…what…give us a hint…please. Old man with a walker at a gas station. An ice machine. Eating in bed and watching a television program about condoms. Whittling and Mexican music. White Noise, TX. Dead bird. Some interesting shots of the moon and pretty landscapes remind me that I’m not hallucinating.
Honestly, I thought by the title that this was going to be a b-movie, some cheap horror flick recycling another cheap horror flick’s recycled plot. When I read that it was about a couple making a cross-country trip, I figured they’d run into some lunatics or accidentally defile a sacred Indian burial ground and unleash some demons, but it turns out my imagination is just too active. I was so baffled by what I saw on screen, I decided to research this movie. Imagine my shock when I found a reviewer who thought Devil Come to Hell and Stay Where You Belong was brilliant. Uh-oh, it’s back to film reviewer school for me. I found it listed as both a documentary and a western. There were horses and cattle and a cowboy… Devil Come to Hell and Stay Where You Belong ends with a suggestion of excessive violence (I'm really hoping it wasn't a documentary), but we don’t actually see the deed being committed. It’s hard to tell. So much of Devil Come to Hell and Stay Where You Belong was filmed in the dark, which is where the average viewer will find him or herself.
Credits list Massimilian Breeder and Nina Breeder both as directors and writers; Massimilian edited. Bonus features include a film from the same two perpetrators titled“The Furnace” and a biography of the Breeders.
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent Devil Come to Hell and Stay Where you belong? No.