One Of The Scariest Scenes In When Evil Lurks Bites Back.

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato. In this edition, Matt highlights one of the most shocking scenes in "When Evil Lurks.")

Halloween may be over, but Scariest Scene Ever doesn't stop just because October vanished in a cloud of smoke. Chris and I have dedicated our lives to keeping tidings terrifying no matter the holiday season. Horror movies don't stop horror-ing because the calendar flips a page or the weatherman predicts a white Christmas. We're here to ensure horror movies like "When Evil Lurks" stay on your mind all year round, because it's always Spooky Season if you try hard enough.

Demián Rugna's follow-up to the critically acclaimed "Terrified" (not counting his segment in "Satanic Hispanics") shows a filmmaker at the top of his craft. "Terrified" emphasizes scares over story, but "When Evil Lurks" supports upper-echelon frights with a tightly wound script to boot. It's a possession flick that plays by outbreak rules in the bleakest manner possible, hitting "feel bad" highs like "Speak No Evil" or "Hounds of Love." Rugna's rip-your-heart-out tale is not for the squeamish or unprepared, especially if you do not want to see animals or children put in danger.

The setup

Everything starts with a "Rotten." That's what characters deem an infected soul being possessed by an unborn demon who is awaiting physical birth. Brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and Jaime (Demián Salomon) visit their neighbor to find the eldest son festering away as a bloated Rotten, and a slain "Cleaner" (someone who aborts the unborn demon) outside. Pedro and Jaime rightfully take matters into their own hands, lest the Rotten spread its infection outside the small plot of farmland. The Rotten must die, and its curse along with it.

The story so far

Pedro and Jaime fail to contain the Rotten, which starts a chain of deaths and devastation. First, it's landowner Ruiz (Luis Ziembrowski), who tries to dump the Rotten body hours away but instead finds one of his goats infected, then himself and his wife. Pedro and Jaime agree to flee town with their loved ones, sending Pedro to his ex-wife Sabrina's (Virginia Garófalo) house, where she's now happily remarried. Pedro starts fighting with Sabrina and her new husband, and while distracted, misses the beefy family dog lick his demon-slathered clothes. So does Sabrina's youngest daughter Vicky (Lucrecia Nirón Talazac), who starts playing with the dog out of view from the bickering adults.

The scene

What happens next showcases Rugna's skills as a scare crafter.

As Pedro and Sabrina yell at one another, and Sabrina's husband talks on the phone while trying to deescalate the situation, Rugna keeps taking us back to an adjacent room where little Vicky first plays around, then sits next to the family's beloved canine (a stocky Dogue de Bordeaux). No one is paying attention to Vicky or the dog, and the camera assures us something terrible will happen.

The excruciating waiting game builds suspense (there's more to the clip above). We know something terrible is about to happen, and we're pretty sure we know what will happen too, but Rugna makes us impatiently hold our breath until the anticipation almost kills us.

The scare is any parent or dog owner's ultimate nightmare. Innocent Vicky is calmly sitting there, nearly the same height as the sizable pooch, and then it lungees out of nowhere with animalistic ferocity. Domestication is forgotten. The possessed dog acts on its feral instincts and mauls Vicky under the dining room table. Vicky's brother Santino (Marcelo Michinaux) approaches in horror as he watches the dog whip Vicky around like a limp chew toy, a morbid visual that's hard to forget.

The impact (Chris' take)

W.C. Fields famously said to "never work with children or animals," but Demián Rugna does both here, and the results are jaw-dropping. I'll be honest: I don't love "When Evil Lurks" as much as many of my colleagues. I think it's a solid flick, but it didn't blow me away. However, this particular scene highlighted by Matt is definitely the scene that stands out the most. It's shocking, horrifying, and even darkly (very darkly) funny in how it all plays out. It perfectly encapsulates Rugna's talents as a horror filmmaker and after this and the superior "Terrified," I really can't wait to see what he does next. 

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