Demián Rugna‘s When Evil Lurks delves deep into the realms of psychological horror, weaving a chilling narrative that seamlessly blends the supernatural with the psychological. This international co-production between Argentina and the United States offers a unique take on the horror genre, delivering an unsettling experience that lingers long after the credits roll.
The plot unfolds with an air of mystery, as brothers Pedro and Jaime stumble upon a gruesome discovery—a half-bodied man leading them to an isolated shack where an elderly woman, María Elena, and her sons are hiding. The eldest, Uriel, stands as a harbinger of impending doom, possessed by an unborn demon awaiting its physical birth. The film introduces a refreshing twist by incorporating the notion of “Cleaners,” individuals tasked with aborting the demon’s possession before it can spread its malevolence.
The film’s strength lies in Rugna’s ability to build tension gradually, exploiting the psychological aspects of horror. The disconcerting atmosphere is palpable, enhanced by the remote setting and the unsettling soundtrack that punctuates each eerie scene. The director masterfully uses silence as a tool, allowing the audience’s imagination to fill the void with dread, making When Evil Lurks a haunting experience that plays on primal fears.
The characters are well-crafted, each with their own demons—both literal and metaphorical. The performances, particularly by Ezequiel Rodriguez as Pedro and Demián Salomon as Jaime, are commendable, conveying a range of emotions from fear to despair as they confront the supernatural forces tearing their lives apart. The dynamic between the characters adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, making the audience empathize with their struggles.
Rugna’s narrative choices subvert traditional horror expectations. The demon’s presence becomes a societal issue as the authorities dismiss the supernatural threat, adding a layer of social commentary. The film ingeniously weaves themes of desperation, isolation, and the consequences of unchecked malevolence into its supernatural tapestry.
The cinematography is a standout element, capturing the desolate beauty of the Argentine landscape. The use of practical effects enhances the film’s visceral impact, especially during the moments of possession and demonic birth. Rugna doesn’t shy away from gruesome visuals, delivering a level of horror that is both disturbing and captivating.
One of the film’s most disturbing yet compelling aspects is the portrayal of possession and its ripple effects. The possession transcends mere physical horror, seeping into the psychological and emotional realms. The scenes involving possessed animals and children are particularly unsettling, evoking a primal fear that taps into the collective unconscious.
The climax of When Evil Lurks is a tour de force of horror, culminating in one of the most deeply intense and heart-shattering final acts of the year so far. The desperation, grief, and futility of the characters’ struggle against the demonic forces are palpable. As a result, it leaves a lasting impression on the audience. The film’s resolution is as haunting as its buildup, offering a conclusion that is both unexpected and deeply unsettling.
The performances of the cast, especially Luis Ziembrowski as Armando Ruiz and Silvia Sabater as Mirtha, contribute significantly to the film’s impact. Each actor brings nuance to their roles, adding depth to the characters. It grounds the supernatural elements in a believable emotional context.
When Evil Lurks stands as a testament to Demián Rugna’s directorial skill in the horror genre. The film’s ability to evoke genuine terror while exploring complex themes sets it apart from conventional horror fare. It’s a disturbing journey into the heart of supernatural horror, leaving audiences both shaken and enthralled. Rugna’s film successfully blends Argentine and American sensibilities, resulting in a universally chilling experience.
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 8/108/10
- Setting/Theme - 8/108/10
- Watchability - 8/108/10
- Rewatchability - 7/107/10