WHEN EVIL LURKS (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham

4 stars
Vertigo Releasing/Shudder. Currently in cinemas
It’s always interesting to watch movies from other countries that explore familiar genre subjects but put a new spin on them.
One such is When Evil Lurks from Argentina, which has a refreshing take on the possession angle – certainly more interesting than the recent travesty The Exorcist: Believer.
Two brothers, Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) and Jimi (Demián Salomón), live in a remote farmhouse. Hearing gunshots ring out one night they go to investigate the next morning. What they find is a body – well the grisly bottom half anyway – plus some odd instruments. They also find papers that indicate this mystery victim was heading to the nearby home of their neighbour Maria Elena (Isabel Quinteros). Visiting her they discover the corpse they have found was a “cleaner” – a kind of exorcist – which she had employed to deal with her bedridden son Uriel (Pablo and Gonzalo Galarza) who turns out to be what the subtitles call a “rotten” – a bloated, barely human, pus oozing, dripping mess apparently in the clutches of a demonic force.
Visiting their landlord Ruiz (Luis Ziembrowski) they decide between them that the best course of action is to drag the swollen Uriel as far away from the village as possible, dump him and leave him for dead. Of course that is a huge mistake as they soon realise that the evil presence is loose in their community and it can jump either from human to human or even into animals. What can they do to prevent it destroying their friends and family…?
I am not familiar with writer/director Demián Rugna previous, much-praised movie Terrified (2017) but if this film is anything to go by I plan to rectify that very soon.
Powerful, freaky, disturbing, visceral and often shocking, this pulls no punches and is suitably gory and grim with often brutal scenes – including a memorable axe killing and a horrifying dog attack on a young girl. This starts slowly, but soon picks up pace, with strong acting, unforgettable imagery and bloody carnage on show.
With it’s evil presence crossing over into a form of infection, this could be read as a comment on Covid and the story even comes with it’s own set of rules of how to deal with a malevolent possessive force.
Currently in cinemas this will presumably turn up on Shudder in due course. Well worth checking out!
Steve Kirkham