The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films in history, so naturally it has been imitated a lot of times over the years. From enjoyably lurid Italian crudfests like Beyond the Door and The Antichrist to lukewarm movies of recent vintage such as The Devil Inside and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, none of them can touch the brilliance, the intensity, and the terrifying original William Friedkin classic. Until now.

When Evil Lurks is indeed a story of demonic possession, but it's wholly original. Faith is the core of most of these type of pictures, but this one is more about the frailties of the human condition and the way so many people do more harm than good in trying to protect their families and communities.

Produced South of the South of the Border, in Argentina, When Evil Lurks opens with a terrifying scene of a pair of brothers trying to deal with a "rotten", or a possessed individual in a small town. Bloated, infected, oozing putrescence, the victim is even more horrifying than Dick Smith's groundbreaking makeup effects in The Exorcist.

Evil has invaded a community and is focused on one family. There are ways to combat the menace, with a list of rules to follow. But how can people logically follow instructions when their loved ones are being destroyed and their grip on sanity is breaking?

I haven't cringed and dropped my jaw this much since I watched Inside back in 2007. There are numerous scenes of soul-chilling horror and gore. But the gore, as effective as it is, isn't the most frightening aspect of When Evil Lurks. It's the utter hopelessness, the dread of the unknown preying upon family. The unpredictable chaos Evil unleashes upon its victims. "Is it close?", one character asks. The answer: "It's close. It's everywhere".

You can't kill it. You cannot run. Even the rules seem ineffective once Evil has taken root in the lives of the beleaguered brothers.

Trigger warnings abound. Animal violence, child abuse, the uselessness of faith as tool to combat evil.

When Evil Lurks is the best new horror film I've seen in twenty years. There have been so many weak and unfrightening horror novels and movies. As much as I love Ari Aster and Ti West, but this one has them beat. It's as good as The Exorcist and I do not use those words lightly.

Written by Mark Sieber

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