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Toronto After Dark Review: ‘Evil Eye’ is a Spooky, Supernatural Mystery and a Twisted Coming-of-Age Tale

October 23, 2022Ben MK

Whether it's family fare like The Wizard of Oz and Hocus Pocus, romantic dramas like Practical Magic, or the more sinister suspense of films like The Witch, tales of dark magic and those who practice it have cast a spell on moviegoers since the early days of cinema itself. When it comes to striking terror in the hearts of viewers, though, it's the latter, of course, that proves the most effective. And in Evil Eye, director Isaac Ezban conjures up one such tale, in this supernatural thriller about a teenager who begins to suspect that her grandmother isn't all that she appears to be.

A haunting horror fantasy in the vein of such contemporary classics as Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage, the story follows Nala (Paola Miguel), a 13-year-old girl whose little sister, Luna (Ivanna Sofia Ferro), has been suffering from a debilitating illness doctors have so far been unable to diagnose. At their wit's end and desperate to find a cure for their youngest child, Nala and Luna's parents, Rebecca (Samantha Castillo) and Guillermo (Arap Bethke), make the difficult decision to leave the city and visit Rebecca's mother, Josefa (Ofelia Median), in the countryside town of Las Ãnimas. Once there, however, Nala begins to experience disturbing visions that would seem to corroborate the local legend about a witch who sucked the blood of innocent children in order to maintain her youthful visage. Could a similar creature be responsible for the tragedy that has befallen Luna? As Nala soon discovers, not only is the line between fairy tales and real life more blurred than she once thought, but her family lineage may be more closely entwined with the witch's legend than she could ever imagine.

With its suitably creepy atmosphere, the result not only proves to be an effectively spooky occult mystery, but also a chilling psychological thriller and, in some ways, a twisted coming-of-age drama. What Evil Eye excels the most at, however, is in telling a story rooted in our most primal fears. And whether you believe in the paranormal or not, the most terrifying equivalent to being seen is the feeling that you're being watched.

Evil Eye makes its Canadian premiere at the 2022 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 40 min.

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