TIFF 2023: When Evil Lurks Spoiler Review


Director: Demián Rugna

Writers: Demián Rugna

Starring: Ezequiel Rodriguez, Demián Salomón, Silvina Sabater
Runtime:  1 Hour 39 Minutes


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?

2023 (actually the last few years), has been a great year for horror films. While studios chase after diminishing returns at the box-office with big CGI-laden blockbusters (no shade because we still do love and need those films), horror directors have really hit their stride. What makes it even better are the types of horror films we're getting. They're all different but the results are the same: Damn good films.

When Evil Lurks is another one of those. We've seen plenty of possession films before but When Evil Lurks takes some of those troupes and then adds to it to build it's own lore. The script also does something that sometimes drives us crazy in which it doesn't come out at the beginning with all the lore of the film. Instead the film builds out its lore as the film goes on through the eyes of the lead character, Pedro. Pedro also isn't a reliable narrator either and that helps pulls the audience more and more into the film.

It also doesn't hurt that there are just some really brutal moments that happen at perfectly timed moments that will catch the audience off guard. Even if the audience sees it coming, the moment in which they happen are still done fantastically. This is definitely a film worth checking out.

When Evil Lurks premiered at the 2023 Toronto Film Festival as a Midnight Madness film and is available for streaming on Shudder. 

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Charles (Kriss)

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