'When evil stalks': the winner of Sitges is pure wild terror

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‘When evil stalks’: the winner of Sitges is pure wild terror

Between high horror (‘Lamb’, ‘Possessor’), black comedies (‘Sisu’, ‘Swiss Army Man’) and fantasies with social discourse (‘The Hole’, ‘Jupiter’s Moon’), how long has it been since you won at the Sitges festival a horror-horror film? Since ‘The Ring’ (1998)? Can ‘The Invitation’ (2015) be considered horror or is it more of a psychological thriller?

‘When evil stalks’ is pure genre (curiously, the one that came in second place in Sitges, ‘Vermin: The Plague’, is also that). A film of possessions and demonic horror without concessions or moral or intellectual alibis: gore, frenetic and garrulous. The Argentine Demián Rugna, known for ‘Aterrados’ (2017), builds an attractive folk mythology around which he deploys a very effective bloody madness: the “incarnated” or “embichados”, people or animals infected by evil forces, and their rules to combat them.

The first third of the film is tremendous. A succession of memorable set pieces, excellently planned, each more wild, unexpected and shocking. The director jumps from taboo to taboo when it comes to the graphic representation of violence. Without giving anything away: the transfer of the “embichado” Uriel (a name with esoteric reminiscences), the scene with the goats (from which the shocking poster of the film is based), the family “melodrama” with the dog in the background…

Then the movie slows down a bit and its interest also declines. The development of the characters and some performances are not at the level of the staging, so the sequences of family and personal conflicts do not work very well. They are not very credible, more grotesque than dramatic.

In the last third, the film unleashes itself again. Although its narrative logic suffers with new plot twists and the appearance of a rather cartoonish character (a former incarnate cleaner), the director manages to make us not focus too much on these imbalances thanks again to his ability to construct scenes of pure terror, full of tension, visual power and splatter delirium.

Taking into account the impact that the film, with the title ‘When Evil Lurks’, has had in the US, where it was released massively thanks to the incorporation of the Shudder platform into the production, it would not be strange for Rugna to become a new Fede Alvarez (‘Infernal Possession’, ‘Don’t Breathe’). He has plenty of talent.

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Simon Müller

Simon Müller is the driving force behind UMusic, embodying a lifelong passion for all things melodious. Born and raised in New York, his love for music took form at an early age and fueled his journey from an avid music enthusiast to the founder of a leading music-centered website. Simon's diverse musical tastes and intrinsic understanding of acoustic elements offer a unique perspective to the UMusic community. Sporting a dedicated commitment to aural enrichment and hearing health, his vision extends beyond just delivering news - he aspires to create a network of informed, appreciative music lovers. Spend a moment in Mueller's company, and you'd find his passion infectious – music isn’t simply his job, it’s his heartbeat.