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Disease has always been fertile ground for the horror style: what is a zombie or vampire movie but the story of a really nasty virus making its way from host to host? Demonic possession on screen usually has the same subtext; Consider the definitive example, 1973’s “The Exorcist,” where the Internet harbors a historical evil and leaves a woman bedridden, covered in sores and vomiting up her stomach.
“When Evil Lurks,” from Argentinian director Demián Rugna, takes the viral imagery and symbolism as its central conceit, placing viewers in a small group primarily through a rapidly escalating epidemic of demonic possession. An inappropriate affected person Zero introduces the plague of demonic terror over the small rural village, slowly infecting man, girl, little one and dog and forcing households to flee for his or her life.
It’s a nice premise that, thankfully, doesn’t exhaust the relevance of certain COVID-19 parallels, but the film doesn’t quite believe that viewers will pick out the obvious, forcing the main character’s son to say bluntly: ‘like a disease?’ when the demonic threat is defined for him. It’s a second of unnecessary hand-holding, indicative of the film itself, which wants to be atmospheric and nasty fun, but will often get in its personal style.
Like one of many films that are tainted, Rugna’s film starts off robustly but deteriorates quite quickly. The story begins immediately when brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) and Jimi (Demián Salomón), from the house they share, hear strange noises in the evening and investigate the next day to find that their neighbor Uriel is in a ‘rotten’ is changed. ”: a grotesque, memorably nasty swollen blob of flesh and cooking plays host to a horrifying evil, the very presence of which puts any home at risk of demonic possession.
The nicest alternative in Rugna’s script is to keep the exposition initially elusive. Both Pedro and Jimi are very aware of what is rotten; In the world of the film it is a typical phenomenon, although you see more in big cities than on the farmland where they live. Little or no element of how society has been shaped by this horror is revealed, in favor of a mere focus on the one case. How the rotten features and the basics for interacting with them (you can’t shoot them, you can’t use electric light around them) are sparsely exchanged, making the opening scenes intriguingly slow. cook the place, half the appeal is collectively breaking the logic of the world.
When Pedro and Jimi discover that Uriel’s household has been hiding him for part of a year, Pedro and Jimi inform the wealthy native landowner Ruiz (Luis Dziembrowski), whose cattle have fallen ill due to the rot. In a transfer that immediately makes the case for the Unhealthy Horror Film Resolution Corridor of Fame, Ruiz convinces the two to help him forcibly remove Uriel from his household and get rid of him outside the boundaries of their group; When Uriel falls out of their truck and gets lost halfway through the journey, the boys decide that was enough and return home without looking for him. Predictably, the belongings soon begin to spread from there, and Pedro and Jimi try to gather their family and escape the group while they still can.
If the film is introduced in the first twenty minutes as a slow and atmospheric horror, the scene in which the possessions begin to unfold quickly dispels that impression. All pretense of subtlety is dropped for murders and scares that are perhaps more lurid and outrageous than scary, along with a bit of lady being viciously thrown around like a chew toy by a possessed dog. It certainly doesn’t really turn into a full-blown horror-comedy, but the moments where Pedro strips naked at his ex-wife Sabrina’s (Virginia Garofalo) house and burns his clothes without explaining himself makes the film feel much lighter and crazier than before. than. Nevertheless, Sabrina’s house and the big city descending into chaos as the possessions begin to unfold on a sunny day are manically enjoyable to observe on screen, delivering on the promise of the rapidly increasing danger that a viral possession guarantees . The film remains entertaining, although the shift in vitality may leave you wondering what kind of horror film you’re actually watching.
Ultimately, “When Evil Lurks” settles for “a boring one.” After Pedro and Jimi take to the streets with Pedro’s sons and their elderly mother, the film has already reached a peak of intrigue and relaxation, and begins to spin until it finally ends. The film’s tentative withholding of exposition is modified by the brother’s mother, Sara (Paula Rubinsztein), telling Pedro’s youngest Santino (Marcelo Michinaux) all the basics of dealing with the rot, some of which is discussed in advance to ensure the viewers to verify. didn’t miss it. The vagueness of the world and the way the Rotten operate begins to feel much less like a deliberate alternative than an indication of poor planning: it by no means becomes completely clear what separates those who become possessed from those who don’t, and the most “guidelines” are not reintroduced in a significant method.
Instead of leaning into the chaos and pressure that a demonic epidemic could cause, the film makes the strange option of downplaying the premise in its back half, without addressing how the broader group reacts to the assets in favor of it follows the brothers as they take refuge with Mirtha (Silvina Sabater), a “cleaning lady” with the tools to destroy the rotten and a tendency to spout clumsy sayings like “evil loves the young, the young love evil .’ With the tension of the premise changed by largely rote scares and a climax in probably the most boring and terrifying haunted faculty of all time, ‘When Evil Lurks’ begins to rely on its characters and their relationships, especially Pedro’s strained bond with his sons. , to give it some weight.
However, the characters are uniformly paper-thin – Jimi and Mirtha have a romantic past that translates to zero warmth on screen – and in Pedro’s case, his backstory of abandoning his sons beforehand is briefly referenced without ever affects his interactions with them in any form. remarkable method. Particularly creepy is the portrayal of Pedro’s eldest Jair (Emilio Vodanovich), whose autism leaves him largely unable to speak. The script treats him as a plot gadget bigger than any specific individual – there’s exposition about how demons enter the bodies of autistic people, but struggle for control because they “can’t figure out their minds” – so when the story abruptly begins To depending on our funding in him and his father, it feels like the movie expects viewers to care about someone while barely caring about itself.
An enjoyable premise can take a horror film far, and “When Evil Lurks” has one that can potentially be taken to striking, terrifying locations. But more honestly than delving into what makes the world of demonic diseases intriguing, the film squanders his personal potential by leaning on his worst qualities and instincts. Instead of giving us something feverishly nightmarish, it ends up being as tepid as a little head chill.
“When Evil Lurks” premiered at the 2023 Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant. The film opens in theaters on Friday, October 6 and streams on Shudder on Friday, October 27.
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