Premiering on Shudder this Oct 27th, lock up your goats and hide your children because When Evil Lurks, neither man nor beast is safe from the forces of demonic possession. In the same way that “no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller,” the demonic evil within this Argentinian horror thriller can possess anyone or anything!
When Evil Lurks was written and directed by Demián Rugna and won best motion picture at the Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival. And for good reason. This film pulls you in from the very start and throws you into the macabre and unhinged world of the possessed, or “the rotten” as the survivors call them.
With tension simmering before the titles even hit the screen, we follow two hunters, brothers Pedro and Jimi played by Ezequiel Rodriguez and Demian Salomon, respectively, as they discover a mutilated corpse cut completely in half. Next to the corpse they find broken demon hunting equipment, which looks like something Cyrus Kriticos from Thir13en Ghosts would keep on display in his private study. This bizarre equipment is used by specialized exorcists known as “cleaners.”
Pedro and Jimi eventually find that a neighboring family is housing a rotten, and the possessed person needs to be dispatched immediately. With the help of their unstable friend Ruiz (played by Luis Ziembrowski), they attempt and, ultimately, botch the killing and disposal of the possessed person and, in doing so, they unleash evil into the world.
This has many homages to films about demon possession that make the story feel familiar, but When Evil Lurks has its own unique brand of esoteric rules, rituals and demonic cruelty that elicits shock as well as morbid curiosity. There’s no monster sounds or shaky cam POVs of evil flying through the forest, but much like The Evil Dead, you do not see where evil lurks or when it will strike, and the possessed can play tricks on you.
The possessed can taunt you, play on your fears to drive you mad, kill your loved one and then bring them back, or they can flat out possess you, your child, or the dog next to you and compel them to murder your wife and neighbors. No one is safe.
When Evil Lurks also feels a bit like The Exorcist meets The Walking Dead. The curse of the possessed is known in this world by many people. Many have heard stories or have barely survived dealings with the possessed, aka the rotten. You are thrown into this world with Pedro and Jimi just as you would be thrown into the dystopian streets of a city destroyed by zombies and ravaged by clans of survivors.
However, When Evil Lurks is more personal. You begin to see things from Pedro’s perspective–the confusion, the terror, the despair. Eventually, you’re in the car with Pedro and his family running from village to village trying to flee to the city to escape the evil that relentlessly torments you.
In terms of gore and mayhem, this film isn’t exactly on the level of depraved, ocular-penetrating insanity as 2022’s The Sadness is, BUT it has plenty of viscerally disturbing moments that even seasoned horror fans might not see coming.
I submit that When Evil Lurks might be a solid, midnight Halloween movie to watch right after Night of the Living Dead while you’re still within the throes of a sugar high from eating all the candy you were supposed to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
BUT VIEWER BE WARNED: If you are to deal with the possessed in When Evil Lurks, the film lays out seven strict rules you have to follow if you have any hope of survival.
- Don’t use electric lights (it encourages demons to move in the shadows)
- Don’t stay close to animals (they too can become possessed)
- Don’t take anything that was close to them (“them” meaning the possessed, but this might be a translation issue. I can only read Spanish on a 1st-grade level)
- Don’t hurt them (or their feelings)
- IMPORTANT: Never call the evil by its name
- Don’t shoot them with firearms (sorry all you Ash Williams wannabes, no boomsticks)
- EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: Don’t be afraid of dying
If you’re too afraid to watch the movie, or you just don’t want to follow the rules, you could just listen to Michael Jackson’s Thriller which features a Vincent Price monologue that mirrors the general beats of the plot for When Evil Lurks.
Near the climax of the film, darkness does fall across the land and the midnight hour is close at hand. Creatures (the rotten in this case) crawl in search of blood at least once in the film, and they will most definitely terrorize ya’ll’s neighborhood. And I’m 95% sure those who do become possessed were probably found without the soul for getting down. There’s definitely a moment where you have to face off with at least one hound from hell, and the possessed in When Evil Lurks are called rotten(s) so they’re basically rotting inside a corpse’s shell, which I’m sure emits a stench in the air. Now, I haven’t watched When Evil Lurks in 4D smell-o-vision (I can’t even afford a refrigerator), but I’m willing to bet the possessed reek of the funk of, at least, 40,000 years.
With all that said, if you find yourself surrounded by grizzly ghouls from every tomb who are closing in to seal your doom, and you’re fighting to stay alive, before your body starts to shiver, despite being a mere mortal, there’s one, final, extreme measure you can take to protect yourself When Evil Lurks. Turn off Thriller (which I know is hard to do) and listen to this elderly, Argentine grandmother sing the famous song of the possessed.