When Evil Lurks - New Release Review
Director: Demián Rugna
Starring: Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demian Salomón, Luis Ziembrowski, Desirée Salguiero, Virginia Garófalo
Written by: Demián Rugna
Produced by: Fernando Diaz, Roxanna Ramos
Cinematography by: Mariano Suárez
Original Score by: Pablo Fuu
In a remote village, two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to give birth to evil itself. They decide to get rid of the man but merely succeed in helping him to deliver the inferno.
If you like your horror to be shocking and gory with the sense of impending doom then Demián Rugna is the man for you. 'When Evil Lurks' is one of the most visually disturbing films I've seen in a long time.
Set in the deep, isolated countryside somewhere in Argentina, brothers Pedro and Jimi come across a corpse completely sliced in two on a deserted stretch of farmland. They find a device close by that Jimi thinks he has seen before but can't quite place where. After visiting the nearby farmhouse of Mrs. Gomez they discover that her son Uriel is a "rotten", a horribly bloated humanoid who has been bed ridden for at least a year and awaiting his arranged termination by a "cleaner". He is also possessed by a demonic infection that threatens to poison every living thing around him. Pedro and Jimi, along with respected farmer Ruiz, attempt to move the possessed one but they have neglected to adhere to the strict rules that apply when dealing with one of these "rotten". Instead the infection slowly spreads across the rural community and they must find a way to exterminate the infection before it claims the entire town, city and country.
This is not your standard "infected" film or your standard "possession" film. It's somewhere in between but what lifts the film to another level is the fact that Writer/Director Rugna is able to world build very subtly without having the characters drop a bunch of tiresome exposition. Rugna doesn't mess about either. There's a bit of time spent at the beginning of the film that weaves in much needed information to help the viewers slowly understand what might be happening, but it's never a chore and is intensely intriguing from the offset.
In fact the entire film is as intense as anything I've seen all year. It's just filled with really well executed nail biting scenes that often end in brutal and unexpected ways. And it feels very cinematic with a roaring score from Pablo Fuu. The music is especially exhilarating during the sequence where Pedro visits his ex-wife and kids. This is where the film truly kicks into gear. It reminded me a little bit of M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 classic 'Signs' only more extreme with more scares and more blood. If you're a fan of 'It Follows' then you will probably enjoy this too.
This film isn't for the squeamish and just as a heads up there probably should be a trigger warning for parents with young children. The violence is very visual and quite sudden and on most occasions Rugna doesn't hold back. Our minds are often taught that the camera is going to cut away just at the right time but no...not here. If you loved that particularly gross scene from 'Midsommar' then you'll be fine but if you don't enjoy seeing sharp things or heavy blunt objects entering people's skulls then you'll need to be careful with this one. And there's a crazy scene involving a dog that made me scream out loud.
With that being said, the horror in 'When Evil Lurks' isn't just visceral. There's plenty of shocks and scares but it's the underlying feeling of unease and utter despondency that Rugna creates that is most terrifying. For most of the runtime Rugna has instilled such a deep sense of hopeless dread that it almost made me feel sick at times just hoping that Pedro could come up with a solution. And speaking of Pedro, my goodness what a performance from Ezequiel Rodriguez. Genuinely one of the most astonishing portrayals of a desperate father doing desperate things to save his kids. It's a fiery and emotional performance but is full of rage too which adds so much more to the character in that he isn't just playing a helpless victim. There's an authenticity to the character.
On the back of his fantastic segment from 'Satanic Hispanics', Rugna has yet again hit a home run and delivered a deeply unnerving and terrifying possession film that gets under the skin and festers like an unforgiving sickness. Not for the faint hearted.
- Gavin Logan
'When Evil Lurks' hits UK Cinemas on October 6th then streams exclusively on Shudder October 27th