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Review: When Evil Lurks (2023)

When Evil Lurks (2023)

Directed by: Demián Rugna

Premise: Set in rural Argentina, two men (Ezequiel Rodríguez and Demián Salomón) discover a neighbor is infested with evil. They try to dispose of the evil but just make everything worse. 

What Works: When Evil Lurks is a modern-day folk tale that combines elements from different subgenres of horror. The film is mostly set in rural environs where two brothers discover that a neighbor has been infected by a demonic evil. Instead of an Exorcist-style possession, the demonic infestation looks much more like a chronic illness. The brothers attempt to discard the infected man to stop the evil from spreading but inadvertently unleash it on the community. The evil takes forms recognizable from other horror subgenres, namely zombie films and contagion stories as well as a bit of demonic horror but the presentation feels fresh. The style of the movie has an organic feel and When Evil Lurks possesses a growing sense of doom. The filmmakers do an excellent job handling the exposition. They give us just enough information to make sense of what we’re seeing but nothing is overexplained. The emphasis is on the characters as they try to outrun the evil, a task that gradually proves impossible. The central characters of When Evil Lurks are flawed and complicated. Pedro, played by Ezequiel Rodríguez, has a fraught relationship with his ex-wife and their kids. It comes out that Pedro had essentially abandoned his family and the theme of running away and the futility of escape pulls the various parts of the movie together.

What Doesn’t: When Evil Lurks doesn’t adhere to some of the expectations of a commercial horror picture. A lot of crowd-pleasing horror is about facing and defeating an evil force. The whole point of When Evil Lurks is the futility of that struggle. This is a very dark picture and although not excessively violent When Evil Lurks does have a challenging and downbeat conclusion.

Bottom Line: When Evil Lurks draws on various horror subgenres to create a distressing portrait of people struggling with the existence of evil. This isn’t a crowd pleaser but it is a movie that’s fascinating to rewatch and dissect.

Episode: #970 (October 22, 2023)