Saturday, November 18, 2023

What I Watched in October 2023

Easily the most impressive new horror film I saw in October was WHEN EVIL LURKS (2023) from Argentina. A decidedly different take on the idea of possession it goes in directions both sledgehammer violent and subtly nuanced while creating a different way of thinking about the concept from nearly every angle.

Starting in rural Argentina we are slowly introduced to the evidence of some possibly supernatural event involving the death of a visitor to the area. The film’s slow build of information felt perfect as it puts us in the position of an outsider looking in and having to put together the pieces before things are presented in an unambiguous fashion. The characters refer to these disturbing events as something that is not unknown but more common in heavily populated areas. Adding to the mystery the film’s dialog points toward the possible dystopian/apocalyptic nature of this situation and the story plays out in a way that leaves that open. The terminology used to describe the victims of these ‘possessions’ is very different from the standard but exactly the kind of identifiers that people with limited means and education would use. Referring to the victims as rotten or ‘the rotten’ both prolongs the question of what is happening and is an excellent descriptor of the effect that this ‘demon possession’ has on the individuals affected by it.

As the story moves from rural to urban we follow the rising desperation of the main character as he attempts to make people believe him and then his utter despair as he realizes that his task might be impossible. When he begins to understand that it is his fears that have brought about the worst imagined consequences the film moves into some of the darkest material I’ve seen in a horror tale in years. The film leaves the ultimate answer about what is happening a question with many possible answers but the dark nature of the actions of the affected are undeniably awful. I found the setting of the third act in an abandoned children's school to be incredibly effective and without a doubt one of the most satisfyingly dark endings of a horror film I've seen in a long time. There are depths to this film that many of us will be discussing for years to come.

Needless to say, I recommend the film.

The List  

IT LIVES INSIDE (2023) – 6 (interesting Hindu demon tale)

RUN RABBIT RUN (2023) – 7 (Australian psychological horror – family ghosts resurface)

SOCIETY LAWYER (1939) – 7 (fast and sharp crime story with Walter Pidgeon)

SHADOW OF DEATH (1969) – 7 (twisty Spanish murder tale)

SCREAM OF THE BLIND DEAD (2021) – 3 (dull 40 minutes of love for the original film)

ANNABELLE (2014) – 7 (well made with one outstanding scare that really got me)

SPECTERS (a.k.a. Spettri) (1987) – 5 (spooky events around an archeological dig – barely hangs together)

YOU’RE NEXT (2011) – 8 (rewatch)

THE INFERNO (1979) -7 (remake of Jigoku (1960) – this is a little too long but very good)

SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1987) – 3 (Toni Basil is the only bright spot)


LONDON BY NIGHT (1937) – 6 (interesting murder mystery with one awful supporting performance)

THE ONES YOU DIDN’T BURN (2022) – 6 (low-key slow-burn tale of modern witches)

THE INCUBUS (1982) – 7 (fascinating if clunky supernatural horror – great cast)

KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977) – 6 (rewatch)

FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) – 9 (rewatch in Blu)

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983) – 6 (rewatch on Blu)

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2022) – 8 (rewatch)


FRIDAY THE 13TH VII – THE NEW BLOOD (1988) – 7 (rewatch on Blu)

V/H/S/85 (2023) – 7 (well done anthology entry)

MIDNIGHT MAN (2013) – 6 (interesting low budget Irish ghost tale)

ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017) – 7 (effective, creepy evil doll origin tale)

FRANKENSTEIN (1931) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)

INSECT (a.k.a. BLUE MONKEY) (1987) – 6 (a better than I expected giant bug film)

PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)

LUANA, THE GIRL TARZAN (1968) – 6 (rewatch)

THE KINDRED (1987) – 7 (well done mad scientist/monster film)

A FIELD IN ENGLAND (2013) – 7 (fascinating period horror)

THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964) – 7 (rewatch on Blu) (it falters in the last act but until then..)

THE FREAKMAKER (1974) – 7 (solid mad scientist crossed with FREAKS story - great cast)

BROOKLYN 45 (2023) – 8 (excellent WWII ghost tale)

STOP ME BEFORE I KILL (1960) – 7 (well done Val Guest directed thriller)

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)

THE RAVEN (1935) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)

TERROR OUT OF THE SKY (1978) – 5 (killer bee TV movie – sequel to The Savage Bees)

THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)

WHEN EVIL LURKS (2023) – 9 (excellent demon possession tale from Argentina)

THE HEARSE (1980) – 6 (rewatch)


PHASE IV (1974) – 7 (rewatch on Blu)

ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019) – 7 (becomes a suburban haunted house story)

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) – 7 (rewatch on Blu)

HALLOWEEN (1978) – 10 (rewatch on Blu)

THE MONSTER WALKS (1932) – 5 (clunky per-code old dark house thriller)

HALLOWEEN II (1981) – 7 (rewatch of the TV version)

THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT (1973) – 7 (rewatch)


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