Luciferina review: A young woman travels into a jungle to find a mystical plant to help her dying father.
Luciferina review by Awais Irwan.
Natalia (Sofiá Del Truffo) is a convent novice, waning her days away training to be a nun; she has been having lots of unsavoury yet unclear dreams and visions of her past and begins seeing the auras of those around her. When she hears word that her mother has passed away in an accident, she reluctantly returns to her troubled home to find her father in a catatonic state and her sister in an abusive relationship; when she decides to head to an isolated island with her sister and her friends to partake in a ritual of sorts, things begin to really go awry for Natalia as she is forced to confront her inner demons.
For starters, Luciferina is a gorgeous looking film. Claudio Beiza’s cinematography is slick and polished and, when the film does use that splash of CG, it often looks pretty good too – something that can’t be said for a lot of similarly low-budget horror fare. And Gonzalo Calzada’s direction is often slick too, the camera work is impressive and frenetic and it all does well in adding to the immersive nature of the chaos when it all unfolds. The thing is, this chaos takes quite a while to really arrive and whilst Calzada showcases some competent directorial work, the same can’t be said for his writing.
The film clocks in just shy of two-hours and it takes over an hour for the story to really kick into gear; up until that point, it’s a lot of meandering and setting up but most of it is just bland. The development works for a while but considering it takes so long to get to the meat of the film, setting up more questions than its answering at this point, it just begins to feel plodding and tedious. However, thankfully, when the group all head to the island, the film really finds itself within the madness that goes down and, whilst pretty frenetic and scattered, it’s admittedly good fun to witness – a supernatural birth; an unusual exorcism; eyeballs being stabbed. The film does a lot to keep things you’ve seen many times before still interesting to watch but it can’t be said that Calzada offers up much in the way of originality.
Luciferina is far from the mess it could have been; it’s also far from the B-rate gore-fest it should have been. The final act alone is batshit and bananas enough to fill any horror fan’s desire for the supernatural and chaos they went in for and it’s terribly fun watching things just go so wrong in the most enjoyable of ways. But the plodding first hour can make getting to the good stuff quite tedious; it’s too drawn out for its own good and the film sets up a lot that it fails to answer. It’s frequently creepy but, again, this film would have been better served if it was just that little bit tighter than it is. Still, there’s certainly plenty fun to be had with it.
Luciferina review by Awais Irwan, August 2018.
Luciferina screened at Arrow Video Frightfest 2018.