Luz: The Flower of Evil (Colombia, 2019)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always keen to watch horror films from as many different countries as I can. When I read that Luz: The Flower of Evil was made in Colombia, it went straight on my list simply because I’d never seen a Colombian horror film. It didn’t hurt that the synopsis and stills suggested the sort of art house folk horror vibe I tend to enjoy. And I’m always up for a film about cults. So let’s see how well all these elements come together.
Luz: The Flower of Evil is currently streaming on Shudder in the UK.
Zion, Lalia and Uma are three young women living in a remote commune ruled over by the divinely inspired El Señor. We are introduced to their world through a montage of scenes of pastoral beauty and rustic simplicity, interspersed with a few macabre hints that something may be terribly wrong in their little Eden.
One day, Lalia finds a cassette player in the woods. El Señor is concerned that music presents a moral threat and confiscates the player, “or else these lands may burn”. The women are so sheltered as to be unfamiliar with even the word “music”. Their only exposure has been through a musical box once owned by Luz, El Señor’s late wife, who is now buried under a nearby dead tree. Unbeknownst to El Señor, however, Lalia has managed to hide a tape from him.
The dead tree is a central part of the mystical beliefs that guide El Señor and, by extension, the commune. El Señor and his acolytes believe that when they find “him”, the tree will come into flower once more. We soon learn that the “him” they seek is an incarnation of Jesus, who they believe has taken the form of a young boy. When El Señor finds a boy he believes to be this messiah, he chains the child up in the yard like a goat, waiting for vindication of his faith.
Portents grow even as more human concerns start tearing the little community apart, setting the stage for miracles and atrocities.
Appropriately for a film whose title nods towards Baudelaire, Luz: The Flower of Evil is steeped in mysticism and poetry. El Señor is given to pronouncements like “Killing God is the first step towards faith. We kill him every day.” We encounter what may be manifestations of Jesus and the Devil. And as events come to their catastrophic conclusion, we are asked whether miracles are necessarily good things. This is not a film that is afraid to get weird or spiritual on us.
It is hard not to compare Luz: The Flower of Evil with The Witch. While they end up in very different places, they are both artistically shot stories of families dealing with the challenges of isolation, crises of faith and the temptation of supernatural forces. Beyond those superficial similarities, however, Luz is more concerned with the duality of good and evil, and whether we can truly differentiate them in a spiritual sense. It is less a horror film with religious trappings and more a spiritual meditation that uses horror as a vehicle.
Luz: The Flower of Evil is a genuinely beautiful film. The credits mention that the film was financed through IndieGoGo. If the budget was as low as this suggests, you could never tell from watching. Every scene is simply gorgeous. The vividness of the colour palette is almost hallucinatory, like some lost production from the glory days of Technicolour. In the opening minutes, we are drawn in by impossibly blue skies and the deep redness of blood. The locations are equally lovely, bringing even the slightest of scenes to vibrant life.
In terms of story, Luz: The Flower of Evil is a bit more challenging. Its slow, deliberate pace and ambiguity may not suit those in the mood for traditional horror. This is a film more interested in exploring mysticism and power dynamics than scaring its audience. The tone is largely one of growing dread rather than terror. At the same time, when blood and violence come, they do so quickly and mercilessly. For all its thoughtfulness and beauty, Luz isn’t afraid to hurt us when it needs to.
If you’re the kind of horror fan who enjoys Jodorowsky or output of A24, Luz: The Flower of Evil deserves a place in your month’s viewing.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- Werewolves Within (USA, 2021)
- Crystal Eyes (Argentina, 2018)
- Super Dark Times (USA, 2017)
- Thirst (Australia, 1979)
- A Ghost Waits (USA, 2020)
- Cemetery of Terror (Mexico, 1985)
- I Came By (UK, 2022)
- 100 Monsters (Japan, 1968)
- Sea Fever (Ireland, 2020)
- Mill of the Stone Women (Italy, 1960)
- Glorious (USA, 2022)
- All the Moons (Spain, 2021)
- Broadcast Signal Intrusion (USA, 2021)
- Incantation (Taiwan, 2022)
- The Gore Gore Girls (USA, 1972)
- Luz: The Flower of Evil (Colombia, 2019)
- Butterfly Kisses (USA, 2018)
- The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Italy, 1971)
- Saloum (Senegal, 2021)
- The Addiction (USA, 1995)
- Good Madam (South Africa, 2021)
- The Freakmaker/The Mutations (UK, 1974)
- The Long Walk (Laos, 2019)
- Errors of the Human Body (Germany, 2013)
- Eyes of Fire (USA, 1983)
- Caveat (Ireland, 2020)
- The White Reindeer (Finland, 1952)
- His House (UK, 2020)
- Tourist Trap (USA, 1979)
- Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Sweden, 1922)
- Flux Gourmet (UK, 2022)
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Night House
- The Changeling
- The Endless
- Our favourite Cthulhu Mythos media
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!