The Movie Waffler New to Shudder - WHEN EVIL LURKS | The Movie Waffler

New to Shudder - WHEN EVIL LURKS

New to Shudder - WHEN EVIL LURKS
A plague of possession is unleashed across a rural Argentinian community.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Demián Rugna

Starring: Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demián Salomón, Luis Ziembrowski, Silvina Sabater

When Evil Lurks poster

Writer/director Demián Rugna's When Evil Lurks is a horror movie dealing with the theme of possession. Nothing new there, but Rugna's film differs from others in one significant way. Possession horror movies usually feature protagonists who are cynical and agnostic at first until they're forced to admit that supernatural forces are at play, at which point some sort of religious figure is usually called in to save the day. The protagonists of When Evil Lurks have no such doubts. The film is set in a sort of alternate Argentina where most people accept that possession is real, with those who become possessed labelled as "rotten." The authorities are even on board with this, employing "cleaners" who specialise in performing exorcisms.

When Evil Lurks review

The movie opens with the discovery of the butchered corpse of one such cleaner on land owned by farming brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and Jimmy (Demian Salomon). This leads them to the nearby home of an indigenous family, where they're greeted with a gruesome sight. The family's eldest son is confined to his bed and is in a bloated, pus-ridden state. Turns out he's been hidden away by his family for the past year. Assuming the young man is a rotten, Pedro and Jimmy team up with their neighbour Ruiz (Luis Ziembrowski) and load the rotten's oozing mass onto a pickup truck, planning to dump him far away from their village. When they arrive at their destination, they discover the human blob has disappeared. Figuring it's someone else's problem now, the trio return to town, but that's when the trouble starts.

And what trouble! Rugna lays on an intense parade of horrors as an evil force takes over the town, causing a spate of violence. Rugna is shockingly democratic in his doling out of terror, with children, animals, and a pregnant woman all mangled and torn apart before our eyes. Think of the intensity of the opening 10 minutes of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. This is what you get for most of the film's first half!

When Evil Lurks review

Unfortunately, the film can't sustain its chaotic energy and the second half becomes mired in exposition and mumbo jumbo as the brothers, along with Pedro's sons and his mother, seek the assistance of a former cleaner (Silvina Sabater). Various rules are introduced regarding how to deal with the threat and the methods the evil might employ against its targets. The problem is how the film presents these rules in the manner of a spoilt kid who keeps changing the rules of a game they're losing, seemingly making them up on the fly. This results in the audience being told what we should be scared of or apprehensive about rather than simply scaring us or making us apprehensive in an organic way.

When Evil Lurks review

Like the worst superhero movies, much of When Evil Lurks seems more interested in laying down a path for possible further instalments than in keeping focus on telling its own story. That said, now that the rules have been established, perhaps a sequel could be better able to focus on the sort of outlandishly violent thrills that make up the highlights of Rugna's frustrating film.

When Evil Lurks
 is on Shudder UK now.

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