Written and directed by Demián Rugna, When Evil Lurks might be one of those horror movies that you put on in a whim. Its basic premise doesn’t sound particularly interesting, but it looks like it might have a darker edge. Then you watch it, and come away stunned by what you experienced. Where any negatives are far outweighed by its positives, and you just want to talk about it to anyone and everyone. Even if that means reliving some of the most harrowing horror scenes seen in modern times.
A Spanish spoken film (so expect subtitles), blending folk, supernatural, and psychological horror, When Evil Lurks is not for the faint-hearted. Featuring unforgettable imagery, pushing the boundaries of traditional horror, and telling a truly depressing story. Which surrounds brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and Jimmy (Demian Salomon) who live an isolated life on their farmhouse. After hearing gunshots late at night, they go out the next morning to discover the dead body of an unknown man. Well, half his body, as he appears to have been torn in two.
Nearby is a neighbour’s house, so they visit hoping to find out more, but make the discovery of a ‘rotten’. The name they give to someone who has been possessed by a demon. Which proves to be an apt name, as those who are rotten become bloated, with oozing sores all over their body. The first time you see the rotten, your stomach might turn, it’s that disgusting look.
The poor soul begs to be killed, and it’s tempting to give them what they want, however in this world, that is not a good idea. You see, even though they can possess, demons become trapped inside our bodies, and the death of their host frees them to carry on causing carnage.
So, alongside another neighbour, they decide to take the rotten far away and dump it. Figuring that solves their problem. Of course, it doesn’t and carnage is well and truly unleashed upon their small-town community. Hold on tight, things are about to get gory, all while the brothers try to find a way to stop the evil spreading.
It’s a really cool idea to use ‘evil’ as an infection, even if When Evil Lurks doesn’t always do the best job of explaining the how, why, and what of it all. It’s the one major criticism that can be levied at the story, as you’re expected to just run with certain things as though they are matter of fact for this world. It’s fine though, because this is a white-knuckle ride that will be remembered for the intensity of its tone. The tension constantly ramps up, the mistrust and fear that comes around every corner, the sense of hopelessness, and the feelings of revulsion. Evil has never been this communicable.
You don’t want a lot of this to be spoiled, even if it won’t diminish the shock value, just be prepared for some truly ghastly moments of horror that look far too real. What really impresses is how the film continues to up the ante, and the sight of a woman digging into the head of a child as though she’s trying to get the last piece of candy out of a bucket, is just one moment that stays with you long after.
It does slow down a bit in its second half, and while that’s a great opportunity to catch your breath, the film does struggle to regain its momentum. Although, again, it’s hard to be too critical of this, as the break in chaos stops it becoming desensitising and the final part of the movie is pretty mental.
Overall, When Evil Lurks is a strong example of horror genre-bending that has a compelling story, using unoriginal elements to create something fresh, and levels of gruesome horror that is simply unforgettable.
When Evil Lurks (2023)
The Final Score - 8.5/10