IFC Films, Shudder Set Release For ‘Terrified’ Director Demián Rugna’s “When Evil Lurks,” Drop Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

Ahead of its ambitious release scheme, Shudder has granted Variety exclusive access to the lurid trailer for Argentine genre-phenom Demián Rugna’s second feature “When Evil Lurks” (“Cuando Acecha La Maldad”).

With Paris-based prestige sales agent Charades (“Little Girl Blue”) handling global sales, the film debuts at the Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness screenings on Sept. 13. 

Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, is partnering with IFC Films (“Boyhood,” “Blackberry”) for the highly-anticipated theatrical release on Oct. 6 and the film will hit the streamer as a Shudder Original on Oct. 27, just in time to curdle blood on Halloween. 


“We’re very excited to continue our collaboration with Shudder/IFC Films and were blown away seeing this film from Argentina. We can’t wait to see the reaction of the audience in Toronto,” Charades’ co-founders Pierre Mazara, Carole Baraton and Yohann Comte said in a statement.

Following the success of “Terrified” (“Aterrados”), which garnered buzz after being named Fantastic Fest’s best horror feature in 2017 and whose remake rights were granted to Guillermo del Toro, Rugna’s second title carries the trademark gore and suspense now paired with the protagonist’s self-inflicted psychological warfare. 

Rugna, adding another chilling movie to his repertoire, boosts a genre that audiences flock to despite very lucid and turbulent present-day realities.

“I think horror movies can put the viewer in a situation that they don’t experience in real life, in the flesh. Horror movies play with the sensation of the unknown, the fear of death,” Rugna mused. “They lend the possibility, when the movie ends, to come out unharmed and eat a sandwich without any ill-effects. I think that’s what it is, it’s the sensation of exploring moments, sensations in your life that you’ll hopefully never really experience,” he added.

Diverging from the intimate urbanity of “Terrified,” the film takes place in a vast, desolate rural territory rocked by the presence of a demonic force that goes out in search of flesh to commandeer. The community, held hostage at its behest, is rapidly goaded into desperate depravity. 

At the center, two brothers are tasked with abating an already-possessed corpse after proper spiritual recourse fails and the do-nothing arm of the law leaves them to fend for themselves. The narrative continues to weave through the farmland and its homesteads, chaos traveling at warp speed, lending to the unsettling premonition that nobody gets out unscathed. 

Produced by Shudder and the La Puerta Roja alliance of Argentina’s Machaco Films (“Soul’s Square) and Aramos Cine (“Vurdalak Blood”), the teaser opens with an establishing shot from above, two headlights shine down a jet-black, tree-lined road while the sound of nocturnal critters lay under ominous music. 

We see one of the brothers eyes, lit dimly by his surroundings, as his car slides slowly down the path. The figure of a zombified woman walking in the center of the lane is shown as the camera cuts back to his anguished and curious face, remaining in focus as he creeps slowly towards her, the car nearly colliding with her disjointed legs.

Anxiety-inducing sound production is notable throughout, adding a looming despair to the scenes, something Rugna champions as a director, working with sound designer Pablo Isola to achieve the perfect balance.

As the trailer picks up, in a flash and with a bone-chilling shriek, our driver accelerates into the undead woman, then veering into a nearby tree. A bloodied and disheveled face peers directly at him through the windshield. Unconquered, the figure audibly cracks bones back into place. The trailer wraps with scenes of the characters, a veritable sliding door of potential hosts, in survival mode, displayed in quick succession before the credits roll.

Surprisingly absent from the sneak peek is the wholly grotesque corpse fashioned by Marcos Berta, which depicts the first known victim of the ghouls’ demonic force early on in the narrative. An oozing monstrosity, the viewer can nearly smell its rancid flesh offscreen. Nightmare fuel that Rugna was proud to employ to amp up the carnage.

“I was already excited when I saw it on set, I knew it was going to work. Then, when you go to the editing room, you always try to make it look even more horrifying,” he admitted. “Marcos did a beautiful job and the result in the film, I’m very happy.”

The cast includes Ezequiel Rodriguez, Demián Salomon (“You Have No Idea Who You’re Talking To”), Luis Ziembrowski, Silvia Sabater (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and Marcelo Michinaux.

AMC is in early talks to expand on the IP for television, proving Argentine filmmakers are hitting ever-broader targets. 

Rugna finds it astounding, as local audiences only recently began to support homespun cinema, titles often billed in regional theaters alongside blockbusters, making it difficult to drum up interest.

“What used to happen ten years ago was that our national audience, in general, hated locally made cinema. It’s always been difficult to make horror films with everything they entail. When the Institute didn’t support us, we did it independently, with the shortcomings of independent cinema, especially in genre films, where you’re more exposed to things going wrong,” he stated.

“Fortunately, I think the film scene in Argentina is growing. There are more filmmakers, the Film Institute is supporting more films. Today there’s a remarkable growth in quantity and quality, but above all, in the support of the public. Year after year I see more young people refusing to underestimate Argentine filmmakers.”

For Shudder, “When Evil Lurks” is set to be a top Halloween pick. Rugna agreed, stating that, “It achieves a freshness that the genre viewer is always looking for, something that will make them understand they’re watching something a little different but it’s still designed for them.” 

“It’s not a film that’s meant for other filmmakers, it’s meant for the audience. That’s how I conceive my cinema, thinking as a spectator, not as a filmmaker. I want the spectators to have a good time, to have something to refresh them,” he concluded.

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