The Most Shocking Movie of 2023

When Evil Lurks

2023 was a big year for horror! Fans had their pick of movies like Evil Dead Rise, Talk To Me, Saw X, and many more that graced the big screen. We were spoiled with blood, guts, and ass! However, one flick in particular has crawled into the skin of the horror community and made a place for itself. Demián Rugna’s When Evil Lurks is one of the most shocking films of 2023. It’s brutal, bleak, and finds no solace in religion. While it’s a movie that you need to experience, I’ll break down why it’s leaving viewers with their stomachs in knots.

Tread with caution because there are spoilers ahead. 

One of the first unsettling things we learn about the world in When Evil Lurks, is that the demonic energy spreads like a disease. In demon possession films, we typically see one demon focusing on a victim. Sometimes the victim is simply unfortunate and a demon just happens to find them. Sometimes the victim tickles a Ouija board the wrong way or reads a cursed diary and a wild demon spawned. In this scenario, you could be minding your business and catch a stray demon, because your neighbors were infected. Then it would spread until your entire block becomes soldiers for satan. When Evil Lurks gives us multiple demons that spread possessions like a disease, making the scale much larger than your average demonic movie. 

Since the Evil is spreading like a sickness, the government officials treat it like a disease. There are definite parallels to how COVID continues to be handled. This makes the Evil more terrifying. There could be a “rotten” down the street from you and the government would let your entire block burn because they didn’t follow up with the proper paperwork. The town officials also lack a sense of urgency, although people are suffering and more could suffer due to inaction (sound familiar?). The “rotten” was in that house for a year before someone came to take action. Our government would probably leave certain neighborhoods to fend for themselves.

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Having to fend for yourself during a demonic outbreak is already bleak. In this world the churches are dead. God cannot save you. The power of love and friendship cannot save you. To stop the infection, you need people who specialize in demon extraction (which involves the death of the infected). In the movie, we only meet two of these people. The first cleaner we encounter is a corpse cut in half. It’s safe to say that there are limited professionals and it’s a deadly job (as we come to find out later). The average person would have to flee or get possessed. 

But fleeing the outbreak might be difficult as electricity attracts Evil. It’s one of the seven rules to follow to avoid demonic possession. These rules are unlike any guidelines I’ve seen about demons so far. And of course, our characters break each of these rules. Even knowledgeable characters who follow the rules may meet their doom like Mirtha. Other rules include do not hurt the infected. Brother Pedro and Jimi and landowner Ruiz hurt Uriel—a “rotten”—when they move him. You also must not kill the Evil with a firearm. Ruiz sets off a chain reaction when he decides to shoot a demonic goat; almost instantly, he gets an ax to the face.

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Animals are to be avoided is a big rule in When Evil Lurks. While it is a common trope for evil to affect animals, it is not common for animals to be possessed. This is how When Evil Lurks delivers one of the gnarliest scenes of 2023. Pedro brings his contaminated clothes to his ex-wife’s house, and the dog smells the clothes. That’s all it took! A few moments later, the dog is chomping on Vicky, the youngest child, like a chicken bone. The idea that your fur baby could turn heel in minutes is alarming. 

Children are also likely to link up with Evil in this world. “Evil likes children. Children like evil” is a direct quote from the movie. The children are not safe from harm or possession. Often the children act as the right hand of Evil. Some of the children are seen protecting Uriel after he is moved. We learn that Uriel’s younger brother tried to protect him from the cleaner. Pedro’s disabled son Jair gets possessed and eats his grandma. If a child isn’t being used by evil, then the child is probably being harmed by evil. Vicky was dragged by the dog. Pedro’s youngest son Santino’s head was cracked open like a can of peas. Children are dealt a tough hand in the universe. 

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Another unsettling detail is that the possessed don’t have a specific look. Uriel was “rotten” and Pedro’s ex-wife Sabrina looked like a ghoul due to the car accident. The other possessed people seem nearly undetectable. Mirtha can tell that Jair is affected by the Evil because of his hands. His family would not have noticed until he got up on his own. Demons casually walking among us undetected is an idea that keeps me up at night. 

When Evil Lurks drives home the feeling of hopelessness and existential dread. It is a film that is not afraid to kill children or animals. It does not hide behind God or any religion as a savior. The demons can appear completely unaffected by evil. The government does not care enough to stop the infection before it spreads. The professionals cannot shield the general public from Evil and, in the end, the dark forces win. 

Listen to the full episode where Girl That’s Scary talks When Evil Lurks:



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