Directed by: Gonzalo Calzada
Run time: 111 minutes
The Lowdown: I have seen plenty of demonic possession and exorcism movies in my day (some might say too many), but I can’t recall any of those films mixing raw sexuality and primal fucking into the mix – until this year.
The Argentinian import Luciferina from writer-director Gonzalo Calzada arrives just three months after Unearthed Films’ brutal The Song of Solomon, but the two films couldn’t be more different despite their thematic similarities.
Calzada’s film, which focuses on a young nun named Natalia (Sofia Del Tuffo), is as much about personal discovery as it is the gory goodness that horror fans crave.
With her father dying, and her mother already passed, Natalia agrees to go on a vision quest, of sorts, with her sister Ángela and several of her sister’s friends, including shy Mauro (Francisco Donovan), to a remote religious temple where they plan to drink Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic potion made from plants, to discover inner truths about themselves.
For Natalia, the trip, no pun intended, will expose secrets deeper and darker than she might ever have imagined. There’s much to Natalia’s life that doesn’t make sense, such as her mother, an artist, who went mad, leaving behind a collection of unsettling canvases depicting a shadowy figure, and her dad, who was super secretive and rarely shared key details.
Calzada’s camera captures the early part of their journey like a drone voyeur hovering just behind or over the group as they move deeper into a thick forest before reaching the impressive ruins. There’s something familiar about this place to Natalia, and over the course of the film viewers will slowly learn why.
Once they arrive and meet the shaman, and each downs their own elixir, Natalia’s fever dream reveals the pitch-black current coursing through the ruins. It’s an unholy site, a place where dark magic was tapped into for the worst of intentions; a place both her mother and father may have visited before she was ever born.
Luciferina kicks into high gear once everyone has dosed, and the body count steadily rises, as do the unexpected revelations, both of Natalia’s lineage and of Mauro’s critical role in the proceedings that have unexpectedly begun without their knowledge.
The final 20-plus minutes of Calzada’s film are a literal and figurative mind-fuck, punctuated with blood and populated with sweaty skin being savaged by an evil urgency. It’s as mesmerizing as it is startling, a steaming brew of lust and black arts thrusting back and forth in wanton carnality.
For some time, I’ve felt like the demonic possession/exorcism subgenre had depleted itself of any original ideas or provocative imagery.
Thankfully, new artistic visions like Song of Solomon and, more impressively, Luciferina have arrived to prove me wrong.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Satan, man, that old horny devil.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Urban Legend: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 99 minutes, R, Blu-Ray) and Urban Legends: Final Cut (Shout! Factory, 97 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): We can thank Wes Craven and Scream for reinvigorating the slasher genre in the mid-90s, which in turn spawned a slew of copycat films, such as 1998’s Urban Legend.
At its core, Urban Legend is a pretty weak slasher based on a decent premise that could have been much, much better. It’s more notable for its who’s-who roster of future stars, including future Oscar winner Jared Leto, future scream queen Danielle Harris, future Fringe vet Joshua Jackson and future D-list tabloid queen Tara Reid, as well as a decent supporting turn by Robert Englund, four years removed from the close of his Freddy Krueger run.
The best part of the film, for me, at least, remains Harris, who wowed as a black-lipsticked, gothic outcast, and whose death scene is one of the most memorable.
Two years later, the inevitable sequel, Urban Legends: Final Cut, arrived DOA with a woeful premise – film students compete to make the best movie about urban legends – and once again, the follow-up is most notable for its cast, which included a pre-The Vampire Diaries Matthew Davis, a pre-House and Once Upon a Time Jennifer Morrison and a pre-Hell on Wheels and Star Trek: Discovery Anson Mount.
The first Urban Legend may qualify as a guilty pleasure, but the sequel is strictly avoid at all costs.
Candyman: Deluxe Limited Edition
Orgies of Edo
Forever My Love
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Clyde Cooper (Souvenir Films, 81 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): As pulp noirs go, Clyde Cooper wants to be Mike Hammer, but the titular hero of this new detective thriller is about as useful as a rubber mallet to bang home a nail.
There’s some decent imagery and a handful of hot femme fatales, but I just could not get past Jordi Vilasuso’s bland performance as Cooper, which kept pulling me back every time I started to invest in the story, and refused to allow me to simply enjoy the ride.