Don’t Cast an Evil Eye (FANTASTIC) On This Fantastic Spanish Horror Film
Title: Evil Eye
First Non-Festival Release: September 22, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Isaac Ezban
Writer: Junior Rosario, Edgar San Juan, Isaac Ezban
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Starring: Paola Miguel, Ofelia Medina, Ivanna Sofia Ferro
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival in 2022.
Nala (Paola Miguel) travels with her family to her grandmother Josefa’s (Ofelia Medina) house deep in the forest to search for a cure for her younger sister Luna’s (Ivanna Sofia Ferro) debilitating health condition. Once there, her mother (Samantha Castillo) and father (Mauro González) leave their daughters to seek out more answers. Their absence allows Josefa’s true colors to show which forces Nala to believe that the stories about witches Josefa’s assistant Abigail (Paloma Alvamar) tells them are true. Nala is dead set on her grandmother being a witch, and she knows that she has to do everything she can to protect herself and her sister.
Deliciously frightening while provocative in themes, Evil Eye is an exemplary horror fantasy that is both unsettling and entertaining.
Coming of age is a scary time for anyone, but when you grow up in a family that doesn’t seem to notice you or care about your issues, it can be even more challenging. This is what Nala faces as she works to crack the mystery behind her grandmother’s chilly treatment of her. The disorientation of coming into her own and discovering new things about the world she never considered before, like sexuality, responsibility, and witchcraft, help elevate this eerie folk horror film into something special.
Evil Eye explores a variety of interesting concepts, but none are as unique as the idea of killing your mother unintentionally and unwittingly handing down terrible traditions to your children. This take on generational trauma shows how people within different periods of life harm each other intentionally and accidentally. The realization of what happens wrecks certain characters, who in turn must grapple with their decisions, leading them to partake in the magic that caused their harm.
Evil Eye works so well because of its wonderful cast, but young talent Paola Miguel carries the film. Miguel’s portrayal of Nala is both nuanced and exciting. We meet Nala as just another irritated pre-teen, but slowly through the course of the film she finds herself in a dark fairy tale that no matter how hard she tries to she just cannot escape. Her transformation from powerless kid into a determined woman seeking to take control of her life plays out beautifully. It is all thanks to Miguel’s range and willingness to take risks to pull off such a harrowing journey.
There is a clear distinction between the tales that surround Evil Eye and the one that Nala is living. When Abigail acts as storyteller, the audience is thrust into this fantastic description of how witchcraft entered an embattled family and tormented them for generations. Between the fantastic score and fluid cinematography, the village becomes the foundation for the horror that later infects Nala and her family’s life. Another bright spot in Evil Eye is its reliance on practical effects. The design of the witch is terrifying yet believable. Many small details come together to create a new iteration of witchcraft that is both scary and unpredictable.
A genre bending fairy tale, Evil Eye exemplifies the best in coming-of-age horror films. Breathing life into a well-worn subgenre, this Mexican creepfest gets underneath the skin with its commitment to building its distinct atmosphere with its bombastic score and sleek picture book cinematography. Paola Miguel’s performance as Nala serves as a highlight of the young star’s talent and serves the film well in telling a story that covers so many facets of time and space in life. There is so much to enjoy in this film, but at the end of the day it is just a solidly creepy horror film that is destined to get under your skin. If you are looking for some Spanish language horror to chill down a cool autumn night even further, gaze up on the Evil Eye… if you dare.
Overall Score? 7.5/10