Friday, January 4, 2019

Luciferina (2018) by Gonzalo Calzada


Director: Gonzalo Calzada
Year: 2018
Country: Argentina
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Supernatural

Plot:
After learning of her parents' accident, a young woman leaves a nunnery to to return home to deal with the incident and falls in with her sister and her friends who are going on a trek into the jungle to undergo a sacred ritual which releases a satanic curse on the group as she uses a dark secret to save them.

Review:

Frankly, this was a spectacular and standout genre effort. One of it's strongest qualities is the fervent and utterly phenomenal religious symbolism apparent throughout here. As her religious background at first causes her to be made fun of and ridiculed, this soon gives her a fighting chance to overcome the forces plaguing her the longer she stays in the house. Her initial vision of the nuns in the church after learning of the accident ends up correlating nicely with the concurrent vision of her sisters' friends at the house, which is all tied together through the connections made about who she really is. This is all given greater importance with the scenes at the house detailing all the religious paintings left in the attic along with the sick father in their deformed poses that torment her all coming after a former nun-in-training experiences her first sexual awakening shortly beforehand.

That factors heavily into the traditional jump scenes that are featured throughout here, giving this one a rather enjoyable and somewhat creepy air. The first scenes of her being tormented by the ghostly beings dressed exactly like the figures in the paintings offer up some great jumps and the scenes with the rats charging out of a hole in the wall is rather enjoyable. The scenes on the island, though, offer up an overwhelmingly enjoyable series of scenes that really work nicely, including the ritual being performed in the candle-lit room as they go on their spiritual journey that pulls off the greatest scene in the movie. Under it's effects, the vision of the ceremony to infect the pregnant woman by the cultists before turning into one of the most harrowing and chilling births ever as the nuns try to bring about the usual birthing process while she's clearly possessed at the same time is an extended showstopper and serves this one extremely well.


The work this section builds for the finale is just as spectacular. With the knowledge gleamed from the encounter with the mid-wife following her having survived the demons' attempts to finish its masterplan, this one brings the religious angle together alongside it's tale of salvation where she's granted enough energy and power to fight the demon due to her condition of surviving the intended sacrificial ceremony in the first place. Taking place as a charged, full-scale fight for the soul of both parties through classic exorcism tropes as well as the unconventional method of sexually expelling the demon which is a wholly unique concept that works incredibly well here against the other demonic and exorcism imagery.

The cast here is especially impressive as the film. Sofia Del Tuffo as the lead Natalia is a fine lead, working the naivette and innocense required while also being a strong and resourceful individual who can stand up to the whole affair rather nicely and believably. Malena Sanchez as her sister Angela comes off nicely with the bitchy attitude that hides a vulnerability and resentment in equal measures toward her sister yet still has some rather sensitive moments that make us care for her. Pedro Merlo as Abel, the member of the group who's got the hots for her is a fine nondescript nice guy with a crush on her at first yet has a bit more energy with his possession scenes, playing this part really nicely. While they disappear at the halfway point, Stefania Koessl as Mara and Gaston Cocchiarale as Osvaldo also emerge as fine characters who should've had more screentime but their incidents serve the film well. The film might be a touch too long and feature some wonky effects-work, but these aren't in the slightest bit harmful to this one.


Overview: *****/5
Overall, this one had so much to really like about it that there's not much to hold it back as everything here comes off to the point of being a wholly enjoyable effort. Give this a chance if you're in the slightest bit intrigued by religious-heavy horror or the overall presentation of this one, while there won't be much in the way of being uninterested in this one.

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