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When Evil Lurks Main

When Evil Lurks Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Shudder and IFC Films

when evil lurks poster large

Written and directed by Demián Rugna
2023, 99 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 27th, 2023

Ezequiel Rodríguez as Pedro
Demián Salomón as Jimi
Silvina Sabater as Mirtha
Luis Ziembrowski as Ruiz
Federico Liss as Leo
Marcelo Michinaux as Santino
Emilio Vodanovich as Jair
Virginia Garófalo as Sabrina
Paula Rubinsztein as Sara

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Call it infectious evil, call it demonic possession…either way, it’s a theme that has stood the test of time in horror films. Like fetid and sour ground, it’s a place filmmakers can keep returning to with their own take on the idea of possession and infection. What Demián Rugna has done with his 2023 Argentinian shocker, When Evil Lurks, is to infuse freshness and humanity into the proceedings while eschewing the idea of single-person possession in favor of mass unholiness.

Well, there’s that and the shocking, wanton violence on display, too.

Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez; Juego de Brujas) and Jimi (Demián Salomón; I Am Toxic) are brothers who have discovered the presence of a “rotten” (i.e. someone who is possessed) in the rural Argentinian countryside thanks to the ominous behavior of some local animals. The bloated, corpulent man is indeed in the grip of a powerful evil, and the brothers (along with the help of a neighbor named Ruiz) hatch a hair-brained scheme to take the evil far away and abandon it. Unfortunately, they don’t follow the rules of exorcism and instead unleash the evil on the entire population! Now they must race to stop it from spreading to the ones they love, as well as total strangers.

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It's been some time since I sat down to screen a film that genuinely shocked and impressed me as much as When Evil Lurks. Rugna’s breakthrough film, Terrified, is a deeply unsettling masterpiece, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Still, I was caught off guard by the abrupt viciousness of the violence on display throughout, as well as the unrelenting and undiscriminating nature of the possessions. The first half of the film assaults you with moment after moment of grisly, gnarly horror bloated with images that won’t leave your brain for some time.

Speaking of bloated, Rugna’s take on what demonic possession does to a human body (in the form of the “rotten”) is a bit of a revelation. It’s gooey enough to make you want a shower and truly rotten enough to smell through the television. As the film shifts from its breakneck pace in the first act to the somewhat more restrained (but much more psychologically and emotionally disturbing) second act, When Evil Lurks also utilizes children with zero regard for the rules. And aren’t children creepy enough as it is without this level of possession?

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From a filmmaking standpoint, it’s a brilliantly shot film, with superb lighting and a score that maximizes the horrific moments for all they are worth. The all-practical SFX makeup brings the pain in full measure and leaves nothing to the imagination in the best way possible. After you’ve watched a mother walking down a dark road cradling her son lovingly while eating the brains from his open skull with vapid attention, you’ve only seen a piece of what Rugna is offering you. And that’s not even touching “the hairball”. You’ll see what I mean.

I don’t know if there’s ever been a bleaker movie made; it’s on the level of The Sadness in both its graphic violence and “we are all fucked” attitude (though the murderous acts are definitely more restrained than that wonderful horror show). There’s nothing positive happening here. In fact, there’s so much wrongness that you have to applaud. Rugna’s motto is clearly “when you’re representing true evil, don’t pussy out or go soft in the paint”.

When Evil Lurks is a movie that leaves a mark on you, rendering you thankful that evil isn’t a traveling force in real life. It’s It Follows (minus the sexual aspect) on steroids and with a bone-dry garden of fucks to give, intermingled with the flavor of The Sadness. It’s also a wonderful alternate (non-Catholic) take on the idea of infectious demonic possession and how humans react in the face of that. The performances are believable, and there’s no need to suspend your disbelief – you are in the moment.

Though you probably won’t want to be in this particular moment. I know I wouldn’t be, because evil just wants to be born. Also, it really likes children.

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Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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