Luciferina (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A trainee nun, Natalia, goes home after an accident kills her mother and leaves her father dying. Once home, she discovers family secrets and goes on a self-discovery trip with friends. There she learns even more and puts her own soul at stake.

Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada takes the concepts of good versus bad, god versus evil, Catholic versus pagan, family, legacy, and destiny and plays with them in a dark realm tinged by demonic forces and curiosity. The story here is done in a way that works for its characters, letting them get exposed and built before throwing in the evil/demonic elements. Most of everything here works and goes towards creating a cohesive story and world. Some of the timeline and exposure may feel a bit off as it foes, but it all makes sense by the end. Calzada has a story here that he knows how to tell and he gets it out here on the screen in a way the viewer can easily watch, connect with, and be entertained by.

The cast of Luciferina is lef by Sofia Del Tuffo as Natalia giving a strong, emotional performance. Her work is central to the story and necessary for everything to come together as best as possible and here she does work that shows she cares about the material and about giving the best to her viewer. Her acting is nuanced and natural, showing a great talent. Acting with her are a multitude of people including Francisco Donovan, Chucho Fernandez, Stefania Koessl, Marta Lubos, Tomas Lipan, Pedro Merlo, etc, a strong cast all around who all gives performances that fit with their characters. Particularly grabbing are the old pagan woman and Natalia’s sister. These all put together create an ensemble that was clearly carefully chosen for their chemistry and how they flow with each other.

The film’s cinematography is strong with some really well planned and well executed scenes and sequences. Claudio Beiza’s work here is beautiful, dark, and helps make the story easy to see and follow, something far too many devil/demon/supernatural evil films don’t pay attention to. This is one of the strongest points to Luciferina. Adding to this visual element is the editing by Alejandro Narváez which adapts to each scene’s need, giving time on some elements and quickly moving only occasionally for other parts. The editing near the ending helps establish the mood as it switches the images from one angle to the other, creating a dynamic not often scene in such scenes, the content of which will not be spoiled here for the viewer’s advantage as this is the kind of film that has a few surprises that are best discovered while watching it.

Luciferina is a worthy offering in its sub-genre and in horror for fans of films that are more than just about a final girl or just about a simple demon possession. It’s got mystery and a good rhythm to its story that keeps the viewer glued to the screen, watching as things go from bad to worse to weird to wtf. It’s fun watch with some good demonology involved.

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