WHEN EVIL LURKS (2023) Reviews of demonic Shudder horror – now with full trailer

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When Evil Lurks is a 2023 supernatural horror film about two brothers who find a demon-infected man just about to give birth to evil itself.

Written and directed by Demián Rugna (Satanic Hispanics; Terrified). Produced by Fernando Díaz and Roxana Ramos. Executive produced by Emily Gotto and Samuel Zimmerman.

The Argentinian production stars Ezequiel Rodríguez, Luis Ziembrowski, Federico Liss, Demián Salomón, Emilio Vodanovich, Marcelo Michinaux, Silvina Sabater, Virginia Garófalo and Paula Rubinsztein.

In a remote village, two brothers discover a demon-infected man just about to give birth to evil itself. In a time when exorcism looks to be of little use to ward off evil, after warning the neighbours in town, they decide to get rid of the man but merely succeed in helping him to deliver the inferno…


TIFF blurb:
“In this shocking supernatural chiller from Argentine master of horror Demián Rugna (Terrified), two brothers race to prevent the spawning of evil incarnate as an epidemic of demonic possessions spreads through their rural community.

Something or, more accurately, someone is rotten in the state of Argentina. In this context “rotten” refers to a kind of demonic infection that consumes its host, transforming them into a vessel for evil incarnate.

When brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) and Jimmy (Demián Salomón) discover that a “rotten” has been festering in a nearby farmhouse — its very proximity poisoning the local livestock — they attempt to evict the victim from their land. Failing to adhere to the proper rites of exorcism, their reckless actions inadvertently trigger an epidemic of possessions across their rural community. Now they must outrun an encroaching evil as it corrupts and mutilates every man, woman, and child it is exposed to, and enlist the aid of a wizened “cleaner,” who holds the only tools that can stop this supernatural plague.

A wildly original take on satanic panic, When Evil Lurks is the latest supernatural shocker from writer-director Demián Rugna, whose last film, Terrified, similarly served up a series of finely tuned scares and grotesque nightmare imagery. Eschewing conventional exposition, Rugna trickles the unique rules and lore that define these viral possessions across the brothers’ struggle to combat the chaos, and soaks the escalating terror with a brutality that recalls the gory extremities of Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead and the hopeless horror of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s Who Can Kill a Child?TIFF

Writer-director Demián Rugna has said:
When Evil Lurks will be a double challenge for me and the viewer – complex to stage and also very stark for anyone who watches it. I needed to leave the scheme of a contained production to break with everything. This movie will be my relief, a release of disturbing images that have been accumulating in my head over the years like a pressure cooker.”

Co-producer Fernando Díaz commented:
“We’re trying to tell a macabre story with an extremely oppressive and realistic atmosphere, but with a frantic rhythm, without abandoning a strong narrative. A genuine universe that re-signifies the tales of evil and curses; a rural environment on a monotonous plain, interrupted by a series of images and extremely lurid sequences.”

” …a feel-bad midnight movie of the highest order; an escalating series of geographical shock-and-gore horror set-pieces that’s sure to satisfy the type of genre cinephile who will laugh at a brilliantly executed child-rag-doll dummy effect without sacrificing the haunted, miserable, dusty horror paperback atmosphere that it works so hard to instill. There are possessed goats/dogs, ancient fable-like axe murders, and shock vehicle carnage galore…” Blood Knife

When Evil Lurks operates more on a dread-soaked atmosphere and a commitment to fearlessly bludgeoning, biting, and bone-shattering taboos […] Its themes of infectious evil resonate while its frights deliver maximum impact, even if its story unravels a bit at the seams. It’s this, combined with a refreshing spin that eschews the conventional possession horror formula, that ensures When Evil Lurks continues Rugna’s streak for terrifying audiences.” ★★★½ Bloody Disgusting

When Evil Lurks is a brutally violent horror film that effectively builds tension and delivers gruesome scares. The film embraces chaos and leaves no character safe, offering a refreshing willingness to really go there compared to other genre movies. While it has some narrative weaknesses, the film’s relentless energy and absurdity make it a compelling and dread-inducing experience.” Rating: B Collider

“What makes this movie so good and unsettling is that it’s true to the title and storyline; it’s just pure evil. It makes you want to look away or cover your ears but even when it’s over the feeling forces you to sit with it a little bit longer.  Love the cultural aspects from Argentina that shine through.” ★★★★ Elisa Paszt Ornelas

“A fun premise can get a horror film far, and When Evil Lurks has one that could be taken to interesting, terrifying places. But rather than lean into what makes its world of demonic diseases intriguing, the film squanders its own potential by leaning into its worst qualities and instincts. Instead of giving us something feverishly nightmarish, it ends up running as tepid as a minor head cold.” Grade: C IndieWire

” …an escalating slow-build series of surreal, tangible, geographical shock-and-gore horror set-pieces that’s sure to satisfy the type of genre cinephile who will laugh at a brilliantly executed child-rag-doll dummy effect or some goopy brain-eating without sacrificing the haunted, miserable, dusty horror paperback atmosphere that it works so hard to instill…” ★★★★ Josh Lewis

“In the end, there’s enough unforgettable imagery in When Evil Lurks to overcome its unfulfilled potential. The right audience will eat it up, ignoring both the undercooked and overcooked ingredients in this bloody stew, if they’re not too nauseous to do so.” ★★½ RogerEbert.com

“Everything is done in camera and Rugna once again enlisted the skills of his effects artist from Terrified, Marcos Berta, to bring amazing gore to the screen. Combined with some sick production (creature) design from Laura Aguerrebehere horror fans are going to be very happy. There are set pieces in this film that will haunt us for the rest of our days.” Screen Anarchy

When Evil Lurks is a perfect Midnight Madness movie. It’s dark, twisted, and full of jump scares and gnarly visuals. Like the best horror flicks, it delivers a cerebral commentary on real-world issues. Rugna once again delivers a shocking and sinister descent into depravity guaranteed to shake viewers to their core. ” That Shelf

“There are a few really hideous images in this one, which is great.” ★★★ Will Sloan

When Evil Lurks premiered at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, in September 2023. It was also shown at TIFF and will stream on Shudder on a date to be confirmed.

Fantastic Fest blurb:
Rugna is a master at creating scenes that will scare the crap out of you, and When Evil Lurks is no exception. This film is truly unrelenting, with a propulsive energy that carries you from one horrific scenario to the next. If you don’t audibly gasp (or scream out loud) at least once during this movie, I’m going to have to check your pulse to make sure you’re alive.” Fantastic Fest



Original title:
Cuando acecha la maldad

Technical specs:
1 hour 39 minutes

More Demián Rugna movies:

SATANIC HISPANICS (2022) Reviews of horror anthology

TERRIFIED (2017) Reviews and overview

#IFCFilms #WhenEvilLurks #WhenEvilLurksMovie #WhenEvilLurksFilm #WhenEvilLurksTrailer #Shudder #ShudderHorror

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