Review by Camden Ferrell
Demián Rugna is no stranger to the horror genre, and his new film, When Evil Lurks, is his fifth feature film as a solo director. This movie had its premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. It may be a bit uneven at times, but this is a horror movie that thrives off of its shock value and body horror.
Pedro and Jimmy are brothers in Argentina who discover a demonic infection in a nearby farmhouse. Aiming to save the livestock that have been poisoned by proximity, the brothers attempt to expel the demon from their land. Unfortunately, their efforts go awry and unleash an epidemic of demonic possessions on their community. Chaos ensues as the brothers try and find a way to properly get rid of the demon. This may feel like a standard possession movie at its core, but there are some twists that allow the movie to feel subversive at times.
Written by Rugna, the script for the movie is decent but nothing miraculous. As mentioned before, it succeeds in subverting expectations and making interesting narrative choices, especially with its most brutal possession scenes. However, the in-between moments lack the same engaging quality. The dialogue is passable, and there’s an abundance of rules and lore that bog the film down significantly.
The acting in this movie is fairly strong, especially from its two leads. Ezequiel Rodríguez and Demián Salomón lead the movie as the two brothers, and they do a great job. They’re enjoyable leads to watch, and they fit well within the movie’s environment and genre. The rest of the supporting cast also fits well within the world of the movie, but they aren’t given nearly as much to work with as its leads.
Where this movie falls short in continuously engaging writing, it more than makes up for it with its shock value. This movie’s possessions aren’t like most in popular media. It’s full of body horror that is as grotesque as it is shocking. And even when it’s not showing this imagery, the movie will still surprise viewers with its unpredictable and graphic violence. It helps the movie feel fresh and compensate for the occasional lulls in its pace.
When Evil Lurks is not without its flaws, but it will still succeed in surprising even the most seasoned horror audiences. It’s shocking and scary when it needs to be, and this gives it some leeway regarding its less than stellar moments throughout. Fans of the genre will surely find something to love in this Argentinian film, and even general audiences might get a kick out of this movie’s shock value.
When Evil Lurks is in theaters October 6.