I was recently asked to review Juan Diego Escobar Alzate’s (Séptimo Día documentary series) 2019 Spanish fantasy/horror/western, Luz: The Flower Of Evil, and I agreed to do it as soon as I read the synopsis.
Far into the mountains in a community led by a preacher named El Señor, a new child who is supposed to be the new messiah is brought, and with him, comes destruction and redemption. Soon, everything will change. Not only for the town, but on the preacher’s home as his 3 daughters start to wonder about the real origins of God itself, the nature of love, pleasure, and inner freedom.
As a Christian horror movie lover, I was intrigued right away. We’ve got a folklore theme, remote Spanish village, a new Messiah who brings destruction and redemption, a preacher named El Señor, and a questioning of reality and spirituality. Sounds right up my alley! But, was it what I had expected?
Luz: The Flower Of Evil follows three sheltered, quite naive young woman who live with their father/stepfather, El Señor (Conrado Osorio: Sniper: Ultimate Kill 2017), a preacher tending his flock in a remote Colombian mountain village. The oldest, Laila (Andrea Esquivel: Afuera del tiempo 2019), is headstrong, pushing aside her father’s belief in God for the beauty of nature and music. Middle girl, Uma (Yuri Vargas: Revenge Strategy 2016), daydreams about getting married, possibly to ranch hand, Adán (Jim Muñoz: One Way Out 2019), while youngest, Zion (Sharon Guzman: Noobees 2018), believes in El Señor and his preaching, but slowly begins to doubt as everything she knows slowly unravel around her.
There is so much beauty in Luz: The Flower Of Evil. It starts with the gorgeous cinematography by Nicolás Caballero Arenas (upcoming The Hunters), the hyper-realistic, almost technicolor brightness of these mountain scenes, and continues with the addition of specific music in an otherwise silent score, especially the repetition of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet and the tinny, tinkling sounds from the girls’ music box. Then there’s the girls themselves, each sparkling in comeliness, magnetism, and awe, more like sirens than the angels that El Señor calls them. There’s so much to see, hear, and feel. Luz: The Flower Of Evil is an orgasm of the senses.
This film is also full of symbolism. The word “luz” stands for many things in the film. In Spanish, luz means light. The comparison of light and darkness is a huge part of the story here. Lantern flames are turned high against the night. Torches blaze through pitch black woods. The oversized moon glares down coldly at this little Columbian village. Candles and music are the only light in a terror of darkness.
Luz is also the name of the girls’ late mother, who is considered the glue that held the family together, which is now falling apart after her death. When El Señor kidnaps a young boy from his mother, insisting that the kid is the coming Messiah, it’s no wonder that his blond hair and blue eyes glow against the darkness of the black eyed, olive-skinned villagers. One wonders if the previous 5 Messiahs were also pale and blond.
This also brings up religion, which is a huge part of Luz: The Flower Of Evil. Youngest girl, Zion, appears to be named after the Christian/Jewish City of David. El Señor is a juxtaposition of beliefs, combining local folklore and an obsession with the Christian God to create an obsessive, overly complicated opinion of faith that no one can follow but him. He believes God talks only to him, and that he was told that he must find a specific spot in the woods for miracles to happen. What he doesn’t know or understand, he assumes is the work of Satan, including a tape deck that Laila finds that plays one of Mozart’s most beautiful pieces. Rather than enjoy the beauty of the music, he calls it the Devil’s Chant and refuses to let his girls listen to it. The discovery of this bit of music just may be the first pebble in a rockslide of life-changing occurrences that effect the entire village.
I do wonder: where did the tape deck come from? How does it still work? Was it sent by the Devil or God Himself? What symbolism am I missing?
What Doesn’t Work
Luz: The Flower Of Evil is a slow burn. There isn’t much of any action going on here at all. The film is more of a character study of this family unit and how each action has an equal and opposite reaction. Nothing happens in a bubble. But for people who need a fast, action-packed horror film, this is not for you. In all honesty, this film can get downright tedious at times. I’m usually not a fan of these kinds of movies, but the beauty of the film itself held me captive when I otherwise would have been bored.
Luz: The Flower Of Evil is not for everyone. It’s a slow burn without much action. However, horror fans who enjoy films like The Witch (2016 – read our review here) will love this deep, beautiful yet terrifying story. The story of these three girls and what they think life is supposed to be broke my heart.