‘When Evil Lurks’ Review: Effectively Relentless and Disturbing

Kevin Taft reviews When Evil Lurks, an effective, gloomy horror film focused on posession in a remote village in Argentina.
User Rating: 7.5

Disturbing, gross, and relentlessly depressing, When Evil Lurks is an effectively gloomy spin on the possession genre.

Sort of a demonic version of The Hidden, Demián Rugna’s latest horror film is about the inhabitants of a remote village in Argentina who discover that one of their own is possessed. Dubbed “rotten,” two local brothers (Ezequiel Rodriguez and Demián Salomón) try to figure out what to do about it.

They drive the still-alive victim far outside the village to keep its penetrating evil away. But the dripping pustule of a man goes missing from the bed of their truck after a near-accident. Thinking they’ve driven far enough, they travel back home, not realizing some of the man’s disease has gotten on one of their clothes.

Knowing that the demon could return, one of the brothers grabs his ex-wife (Desirée Salgueiro), her new husband (Federico Liss), and her kids to get them out of town. But the infection has already spread, and tragedy strikes.

At this point, the demon is jumping from body to body with no one sure who it has possessed and what violence will happen next. Because you see, the person possessed will do unspeakably shocking acts of carnage the moment the evil gets inside. The brothers hope that if they find the original source of the demon and destroy it, the curse will be lifted.

It’s a simple premise with an ultra-realistic location and performances, making the proceedings even more upsetting than they’d be in something sleeker and “Hollywood-ized.” This is not a film for the faint of heart.

While I’m not a fan of torture porn or anything super disgusting, this has a lot of violence splattered on the screen for all to see. That said, it’s a more shocking, visceral sort of violence, rather than something obviously done to make the audience squirm. My jaw slammed open more than once and stayed that way for an entire sequence. Rugna knows how to surprise and shock, and that talent makes this film stand out.

While we never really know why the evil has invaded someone in their village or what its ultimate goal truly is, the fact that it is unapologetic in its desire to move from person to person to animal to person, causing horrific havoc is enough.

When Evil Lurks loses a bit of momentum in its last third, but it’s still an effective and unnerving horror/thriller that will satisfy gore hounds and thrill-seekers alike.

IFC Films is releasing When Evil Lurks only in theaters on October 6, 2023
and it will stream on Shudder starting October 27.

7.5
Good
Written by
Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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