when evil lurks (film, 2023) ↑

when evil lurks (film, 2023)

The praise Demián Rugna's "When Evil Lurks" received made me excited to check it out. After watching it yesterday, I can say it mostly lived up to the hype, though not without a few flaws.

Right from the opening scenes, the movie pulls you in with its unsettling atmosphere and minimal dialogue. We're thrust right into the story without unnecessary exposition, following brothers Pedro and Jaime as they discover a disturbing discovery in the woods. What they find sets the plot in motion and has me on the edge of my seat, anxious to see where it will lead. I appreciate that it wastes no time to establish the central conflict.

Some critics complain the characters make dumb decisions. Still, for the most part, I found their actions believable, given their chaotic, frightening situation. They try different strategies to fight the unknown threat and don't always have all the information. Realistically, not every choice would be optimal in a panic. It's also refreshing that this isn't your standard exorcism film - the rules and mythology of the evil are ambiguous and leave much open to interpretation.

when evil lurks (film, 2023)

The film truly shines in its unflinching brutality and practical gore effects. Some sequences had me genuinely cringing, like the disturbing scene involving the dog early on. It sets a horrific tone and puts you in the characters' shoes. Too many modern horror films rely on jump scares and CGI blood rather than truly making the audience uncomfortable. I appreciated this old-school approach.

Though the plot leaves some questions unanswered intentionally to keep viewers guessing, I did feel the last act dragged a bit with repetitiveness as the brothers tried different approaches. And the ambiguous ending may divide audiences - I would have liked a bit more clarity even if it was still open-ended. But overall, the pace was excellent for most of the film's runtime. Compared to slow-burn art house horrors or fast-cut found footage films, it struck a great balance.

when evil lurks (film, 2023)

Where this film really shines is in its commitment to originality. It pays homage to classics like The Evil Dead, The Exorcist, etc. Still, it puts its fresh spin on familiar demonic possession tropes. Gone are the priests and crucifixes - this evil operates by its own mysterious rules.

Visually, it's a gorgeous film as well. The cinematography captures the beauty and isolation of the rural setting while also effectively ramping up the dread.

Ultimately, I applaud the film for taking risks and doing its own bold, creative thing. It was refreshing as a longtime horror fan who has seen too many retreads. I have no doubt this film will achieve widespread cult status in the years to come for shocking and chilling viewers. I recommend it to horror enthusiasts seeking an unsettling viewing experience.