When Evil Lurks has to be the best horror film of the year. That’s right, I said it. Let me start by stating that I love Spanish language horror. Recently, I shared 31 Spanish language horror films in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and it’s my favorite subgenre. Also I love things passionately. On a few of my personal favorites lists, Aterrados (Terrified) 2017 is right at the top. When I first caught it, I claimed it was the scariest film I had ever seen. I immediately rushed to find everything about the brilliant mind behind the camera and I needed to watch more. Then writer/ Director Demián Rugna left me waiting until the premiere of the anthology, Satanic Hispanics, in which his segment “También lo vi” gave me a little taste of what I was craving. Even if it was too short to truly satiate my hunger. It was fantastic, by the way. Don’t forget to check it out. Rugna is creating whole new universes to tingle all of your horror senses.
And now finally has come his next feature length film, quietly, slowly, sneaking up on us and I almost wanted to cry with anticipation of its release. I snatched up tickets the minute they went on sale. Luckily it was playing at a theater less than 25 miles away. I was one of the lucky few since When Evil Lurks (original title: Cuando acecha la maldad) had a limited release in select theaters. But never fear as it will be available for streaming on Shudder this Friday, October 27th. I’ve watched it twice now and I almost want to savor it for a while longer but I know I’ll be seated in my living room the moment I find it on Shudder.
When Evil Lurks is written and directed by Demián Rugna and stars Ezequiel Rodríguez and Demián Salomón as brothers Pedro and Jaime. The cast is outstanding. Each character, however small the role, is powerful. Ex-wife Sabrina, Virginia Garófalo, gives a bone-chilling performance and had me moved to tears.
The setting of the countryside is beautiful and peaceful and yet frightening because of its seclusion and absence of city noise and industry. Rugna has created yet another magnificent world, one absent of religion and faith, where demons and possession are a fact of life and dealt with by city officials and administration and specialists referred to as “cleaners.” Demons come into this world, first possessing a person rotting them from the inside out, and then are born into it by manipulating and possessing children and others with its essence. Civilians report possessions to authorities and follow rules to keep these demons from spreading.
There is no doubt that Demián Rugna is making horror films for horror fans. There are no cheap scares or overused tropes here. The pacing is subtle and moves in frightening directions. When Evil Lurks is ambitious and intelligent, breaking down walls and opening up a sack of “what the fuck did I just witness?”. It is bleak and brutal and yet exhilarating. The shocks in this film aren’t just for the sake of cheap thrills and they left me feeling utterly devastated. I gasped and my jaw was hanging open for most of the film. I have never heard a more silent and guttural scream, louder than I did at the end of this film. Watch it at a theater if you can. But either way watch it the moment it hits Shudder on Friday, October 27th.