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The Scariest Movie of the Year Puts a Brutal New Twist on the Possession Thriller

This countryside possession thriller takes numerous turns you won’t see coming.

Ezequiel Rodríguez in 'When Evil Lurks'
Shudder/IFC Films
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If you’re a bonafide horror fan, there’s no better streaming service for you than Shudder. The AMC-owned platform has built a reputation for itself over the past few years as the go-to streaming home for new and niche horror titles. While Shudder is constantly adding fresh films and TV shows to its media library, too, there’s no better time of the year to check it out than in the weeks and days leading up to Halloween — a period that allows the service to highlight all of its more recent horror acquisitions and additions.

This year, those titles include gems like Perpetrator, Influencer, and When Evil Lurks. The latter film, an American and Argentinian co-production, is a possession thriller unlike any that you’ve likely seen before. It's one of the boldest, most viscerally intense, and unpredictable horror movies of the year, and, as of today, it’s officially available to stream on Shudder. Heading into the final few days of the month, genre fans should consider it a must-watch October title.

Written and directed by Demián Rugna, When Evil Lurks follows Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and Jimmy (Demián Salomón), a pair of brothers who discover the bisected remains of a brutally slain man in the woods near their home. Following clues contained within the man’s belongings, the pair stumble upon a nearby farmhouse where a young man has been possessed by a demon that is on the verge of being physically born. Desperate to prevent that from happening, Pedro and Jimmy decide to try and move the man — known as a “rotten” among the townspeople — from their land.

In doing so, however, the two brothers ignore the necessary steps for a proper exorcism and only hasten the spread of the unborn demon’s influence. As they race to try and protect themselves and their loved ones, Pedro and Jimmy end up witnessing countless horrifying possessions and killings. Before long, it’s clear that the only person who may be able to help them is a local “cleaner,” an expert in demonic possession equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to put a stop to the epidemic that has taken over their countryside home.

As its premise suggests, When Evil Lurks packs in more than a few clever, original twists on the possession thriller subgenre. Not only does the film introduce a reality where demonic possessions are fairly commonplace and well-known, but one where the world’s governments have literal health departments committed to dispatching cleaners to take care of them. To its credit, the thriller doesn’t reveal any of these details in clunky exposition dumps. Instead, the film throws you headfirst into its central possession plot and lets you put the facts together yourself along the way.

When Evil Lurks is one of the most shocking and inventive horror films you’ll see this year.

Shudder/IFC Films

When Evil Lurks is, above all else, relentless. Throughout its 99-minute runtime, the film rarely pauses to survey the damage of its demonic plague or let its characters catch their breath. From its very first scene to its last, When Evil Lurks remains steadfastly committed to keeping you as immersed as possible in its action and tension. This approach only makes the constantly escalating danger of its story seem all the more suffocating and inescapable.

While the film never shies away from spotlighting the nastiest, darkest sides of its world, either, not even its surprisingly horrifying first third will fully prepare viewers for the gonzo, aggressively terrifying turns its story takes in its second and third acts. The further into its plot it gets, the more perverse and horrifying its series of possessions become. The film isn’t afraid to push the limits of its own tone and frequently delivers moments of bone-crunching body horror that may turn some viewers off.

Even those who don’t ultimately fall in love with When Evil Lurk’s unique brand of horror will be able to deny the originality of its story and the artistry of its form, though. The film is a lot of things, but it’s neither familiar nor boring. On the contrary, it’s one of the most unnerving, hand-on-your-throat gripping new horror movies you’ll be able to find on any streaming platform this weekend.

When Evil Lurks is streaming now on Shudder.

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