When Evil Lurks
The residents of a small rural town discover that a demon is about to be born among them. They desperately try to escape — but it may be too late.
Release date: 6 October 2023
Director: Demián Rugna
Distributed by: Shudder
Just when you thought no one could do anything fresh with a possession movie, Terrified filmmaker Demián Rugna surprises you.
Well, fresh may not be the word. Indeed, you can almost smell this putrid tale. I mean that in the best way.
Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and his brother Jimmy (Demián Salomón) hear shots. It’s late, and the sound is far – somewhere between their land and their neighbor Ruiz’s (Luis Ziembrowski) farm. The way Rugna reveals what the brothers find, where it leads them and what it unleashes is a tale so masterfully told you almost miss the underlying character study and the blistering performance that brings it to life.
When Evil Lurks does sometimes feel familiar, its road trip to hell detouring through The Crazies, among others. But Rugna’s take on all the familiar elements feels new, in that you cannot and would not want to predict where he’s headed.
As choices are made and usually regretted, Rugna propels his heroes onward, each step, each choice, each misstep adding pressure and confusion, unveiling the character beneath even as bits of the brothers’ history organically comes to light. This is a magnificently written piece of horror, and Rugna’s expansive direction gives it an otherworldly yet dirty, earthy presence.
The entire cast is wonderful, each one cracked and poisoned just a bit. But Rodriguez sears through the celluloid with a performance so raw, frustrating and full of rage it makes you uncomfortable.
His counterpoint, Salomón’s younger, gentler brother Jimmy, infects the film with enough tenderness to make the wounds hurt. And in creating injury, Rugna is fearless. No one is safe, not even the audience.
The inexplicable ugliness – this particularly foul presence of evil – is handled with enough distance, enough elegance to make the film almost beautiful, regardless of the truly awful nature of the footage. And Rugna never lets up. Each passing minute is more difficult than the last, to the very last, which is an absolute knife to the heart.
In case Rugna’s 2017 treasure Terrified didn’t solidify his place among the greats working in the genre today, When Evil Lurks demands that recognition.