Cine Las Americas Festivals Movies

Cine Las Americas: “Los habitantes de la casa del diablo” Review

“Los habitantes de la casa del diablo” (The Squatters of the Devil’s House) was a heavy documentary from director, Iván Reina Ortiz about homeless people in Colombia and how they struggle to survive and move forward.

We follow the lives of Fercho, El Diablo (The Devil), and El Jipi (The Hippie) where they share an abandoned building by night and try and make the best of their situations by day. We see their daily struggles, such as making money and finding food, while still being incredibly resourceful and true survivors.  While some of them tend to think it won’t ever be better again, others are content and feel they have already lived full lives and this is just another step.

Photo credit: Cine Las Americas
Photo credit: Cine Las Americas

The documentary contains a good mix of sit-down interviews, while still incorporating a lot of footage of the men around the city. This lets us understand their daily lives through their actions:  Digging through trash for things to resell, peddling in different shops, going by a fruit salesman for an orange or banana on the way to their next stop. It was incredible to essentially tour the city through their eyes and not as a tourist- normally avoiding aspects of the city that they are forced to live through.

There’s also a lot of religious overtones throughout the film. One of the men is nicknamed The Devil, but they argue about if God and the Devil are real, what would happen if they were to meet Satan, what he looks like, and more. Some are deeply devout and we also get the ideas that some of them laugh at the idea of meeting the devil. How much worse could it be than what they already have been through?

“Los habitantes” was a very moving film, but be prepared to go through several heavy emotions. By the end, you start to feel for these people who you might otherwise ignore if they walked by. We learn about their families, their children, and old lifestyles. Sometimes people get in these terrible circumstances for all different reasons, but it’s up to them to try and make it work and get out of it. It ends with a solid conclusion to their current chapter in life and we see them have to make the decision to get up and start something new.

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