When Evil Lurks – Fantastic Fest Review

September 23, 202360/1005 min
Ezequiel Rodríguez, Damián Salomón, Luis Ziembrowski
Written by
Demián Rugna
Directed by
Demián Rugna
Run Time
1h 39min
Release Date
October 27th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

       You know you’re in for a ride when the buzz about a film centers on its brutality. When Evil Lurks skips the pleasantries and goes straight for the jugular, sparing neither kids nor dogs. This, of course, is a polite way of saying that this movie won’t be for everyone, but your horror fiends are going to love it.

In a remote village on a typical night, two brothers spot muzzle fire in the distance just beyond their property. Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) can tell by the firing that it’s from a revolver and tells his brother Jimmy (Damián Solomon) that they need to investigate at first light. What they find is far from pleasant, but they also uncover some clues, including a name and location, which happens to belong to one of their neighbors. When they arrive there, they discover something sinister that will only bring doom to everything and everyone around them. Up to this point, When Evil Lurks feels like just another excellent horror movie, but all it takes is one shocking event with an ax to set the stage for what’s in store. Once the evil is unleashed, it relentlessly stalks Pedro and Jimmy as they try to protect Pedro’s children, leading to one of the movie’s most disturbing scenes that will make even the most seasoned horror fan gasp. Running seems to be the best option for Jimmy and Pedro as Pedro strives to save his family while searching for answers on what to do next. One possible solution could be an old friend of Jimmy’s who has experience with what’s happening, but it may or may not be too late, as evil always seems to find a way in.

Writer and director Demián Rugna is no stranger to horror and maintains a healthy balance between surprise and anticipation in his films. However, he also delivers a mean-spirited and often shocking possession movie that inundates the audience with jaw-dropping violence, in one gruesome scene after another. No punches are pulled, and the desire to shock occasionally overshadows the storyline. The first half of When Evil Lurks thrives in its chaotic form, but Rugna shifts away from that approach in the final act, sometimes attempting to over-explain what needs to be done. Personally, I believe it should have embraced the chaos throughout the entire movie, as it could have elevated When Evil Lurks to greatness.

There is undoubtedly some unfulfilled potential in this film, but fortunately, the visual aspects compensate for it. For the right audience, they will relish it and overlook what doesn’t work. However, not everything is in your face; the movie shifts gears, becoming more unsettling and quiet, yet it never loses its fear factor. Ultimately, if you’re a horror fan, as I mentioned above, you’re going to love this. For everyone else, enter with caution, but rest assured, you’re in for a horrific treat.

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