CULTURE TRUMPET – REVIEW – Luz: The Flower Of Evil

Far into the Colombian mountains, a small farming community is rocked by the arrival of a mysterious young boy. Their leader, El Señor, claims that the child is the new Messiah, there to save their land, yet his three daughters start to question their father’s beliefs when the community starts to dissolve into madness and violence. Is this boy God? The Devil? And, is there a difference?

This unique film, which is wonderful blend of folk/horror/drama, follows El Señor, who since the death of his wife Luz two years prior, has been blindly following his faith and wants God to cleanse the town of its sins, or probably more accurately his own.

Director Juan Diego Escobar Alzate crafts an intriguing film that constantly keeps the viewer guessing if El Señor is correct about God coming to the town, if he is driven mad by blindly following his faith to repent for his many sins, or if he is wrong and it is the Devil who is coming to the land.

Nicolás Caballero Arenas, the Director of Photography, does some phenomenal work on this film, the creating a feeling as if the viewer is in a dream or some sort of trance, through the colour and the contrast in the cinematography. The type of shots used when El Señor is preaching combined with the eerie music and sound distortion in these scenes create a feeling of unease, but also convey El Señor’s madness that he is falling into.

The editing and pacing of the film is perfect. Although there are many extreme scenes, the film takes its time and in the calmer moments allows the viewer a breather while increasing the contrast with – and impact of – what occurs in those intense scenes.

For example, early on, a scene shows a heinous and violent act, running just long enough to learn about this side of El Señor’s character. Of course, this scene is uncomfortable to watch, but avoids pushing the viewer away.

The eldest daughter Laila narrates over the calm scenes with a soft tone, which adds to the atmosphere, but also creates tension through what she is actually talking about. This element of the film helps to provide relief between the intense moments whilst furthering the story along in an interesting way.

The acting in Luz is brilliant and one of the standout performers is Sharon Guzman, as Zion, the youngest daughter of El Señor. She is also naive in her faith and follows everything that El Señor says. We see her questioning it at times, which shows her strength to try and break free from the trance that it feels like the everyone, including the audience is in. Guzman skilfully portrays Zion’s reaction to some highly emotional events, as well as the character’s naivety when talking about the Devil and God.

Conrado Osorio is also excellent as El Señor and expertly portrays the manic preachers state of mind, and in many scenes you can see the madness and borderline insanity in his eyes in a thrillingly convincing performance. The way El Señor manipulates people who follow him including his daughter is symbolised by the way he convinces her that a cassette and cassette player that was found in the forest has been left by the Devil.

The fear in this film doesn’t come from jump scares or screaming or graphic violence but is built up throughout with the use of the cinematography combined with the actions by certain characters, that have an impact later on. During the calm, idyllic scenes with a clear blue sky as a backdrop, Laila’s narration helps to build the fear even though it is a tension free moment, as she talks about her mother and we see her naivety that has been instilled by her crazy father.

The film is a fantastically crafted exploration of how grief can lead people to borderline insanity through their commitment to their faith and trying to repent for sins, when it may be too late to make things right. Luz: The Flower of Evil is an experience that portrays unique, artistic cinematography, balanced with an enthralling story that shows what blind faith can do and the harm it can cause to people surrounding it.

Movie: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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