There’s no concrete evidence, but James Franco just might be the Devil.
Alright, so maybe James Franco isn’t actually the Devil—that’s a little bit of a stretch—but he plays someone who probably is. In Spring Breakers, Franco is Alien, a rapper, drug dealer, criminal extraordinaire who pulls a group of four young women vacationing during spring break into a downward spiral of violence and crime.
Sure, Alien is a shitty person, but does that make him the Devil? When does one stop being bad and start embodying the spirit of the most evil character in all of fiction? Let’s break the film down and examine some of the more telling scenes and see if we can come to some sort of conclusion.
Exhibit 1: Ominous Bible verses
In an early scene, a hip pastor quotes 1 Corinthians 10:13: “And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
This forward bit of exposition lays out the idea that the women will be tempted by something pretty fucking evil.
“How cool is that, dudes?” the preacher asks. “How cool is that?” Pretty damn cool, dude.
Exhibit 2: Alien’s telling dialogue
Much of what comes out of Alien’s mouth is nonsensical and inaudible. Credit that to his muddled accent or his sparkly grill. That which can actually be understood offers a lot for our examination of the Devil conspiracy. Apart from his repeated insistence that he’s not from this planet, Alien provides insight into the nature of his character.
“I was just thinking, maybe you did all that praying and I’m the answer to your prayers,” he says. “You was all in trouble, and here I am.”
Popular representations of the Devil often depict him as scheming and untrustworthy. Hell, he’s frequently referred to as the deceiver in the Bible. With this in mind, it might suggest that he’s offering some sort of promise to the women which will inevitably be twisted or broken.
In a later monologue, Alien states, “I wanted to be bad. Some people, they want to do the right thing, I like doing the wrong thing.”
Exhibit 3: Britney Spears
Spring Breakers’ soundtrack is graced with the glorious work of Britney Spears. In a telling scene, the song “Everytime” plays into the greater mythology of Alien and the film.
If you’re unfamiliar with the song, the chorus goes: “And every time I try to fly / I fall. Without my wings / I feel so small / I guess I need you baby / And every time I see you in my dreams / I see your face, you’re haunting me / I guess I need you baby / I may have made it rain / Please forgive me / My weakness caused you pain / And this song is my sorry.”
Coming from the lips of Alien, we can interpret this as a type of confession into the greater nature of his character. Like the song suggests, we need to notice that this is something important.
It’s at this point we should return to the mythology of the Devil. The Bible tells us that Lucifer fell in love with his own beauty, intelligence and power, and in his pride he desired the glory and honor of God for himself. For his pride, he was cast out and banished from God and his realm.
In his own fashion, Alien suffered a similar fall from grace. Alien was once the protégé of a drug dealer and crime boss by the name of Big Arch, who grows increasingly upset that Alien is moving away from his sphere of influence to forge his own criminal enterprise.
“You want me to stay in your shadow for the rest of my life?” Alien asks.
“Just as I made you, I’ll break you,” Big Arch later responds.
Without too many spoilers, Alien falls from grace in Big Arch’s eyes and must come to terms with a scorned leader figure.
While the evidence presented is suggestive, it’s impossible to say for sure whether or not James Franco’s character is indeed the Devil. His realm may not be Hell, but it is one of eternal partying—spring break forever. He commits vile and morally repulsive acts, but is that enough to call him the Devil?
We may not know for sure, but you can decide for yourself at 5th Avenue Cinema, where Spring Breakers screens Friday through Sunday.