Luciferina is an Argentinian film that tells the story of Natalia, a teenage nun in training who returns home after hearing of an accident that took her mother’s life and injured her father. Instead of coming home to care for her wounded father, she decides to go with her sister and her friends into the jungle to search for a mystical plant that will reveal their hidden past. The answers they get are much darker than they could have ever imagined and Natalia must accept her past in order to save herself.
Luciferina blends the traditional elements of the demonic possession subgenre with original ideas to bring something that feels both familiar and fresh. It delivers a Black Mass, a possessed lady giving birth, a neat blend of paganism and Catholicism, demon sex, and DMT. That magical plant they were in the jungle looking for was actually a tea made from some sacred native plants. The tea is ayahausca. It has been used for centuries by indigenous peoples in South America in spiritual ceremonies; it contains one of the most powerful psychedelic compounds known to man – DMT. So these kids go out to a pretty much abandoned abbey with a shaman, drink the sacred tea, and hope to have their spiritual and mental ailments cured. What they get is a demon totally fucking up their trip.
Luciferina is a little bit of a slow burn; it takes its time setting the stage and building a really interesting story. While setting the stage it introduces the characters and then takes time developing the important ones and fleshing out the fodder just enough that you kind of care when things go really wrong for them. The practical and digital effects blend really well with the cinematography to make this a really nice film to look at. I liked how the possession was handled, too. The makeup is pretty subtle and most of the possession comes across in the performance and sound design. Those afflicted by evil spirits aren’t the only ones who give solid performances, though. Even the characters that are pretty much there to move the story along are well done and the lead, Natalia, is stellar. The writing, from the story to the dialog, is good. I am really trying to find something to bitch about in this movie and I just can’t.
Luciferina is distributed by Artsploitation, the same company that brought us Trauma, the that is being hailed as the Serbian Film of 2018, so I kind of expected this to fall into the “extreme horror” category. It didn’t though, and that’s okay. There are a few scenes that are a little off-putting, some decapitations, some head tossing, and someone ends their bad trip with a pistol to the mouth but overall, it was just a dark horror film with some good effects and an interesting story. At the end of the day, though, that’s all I really need.
All in all, would I recommend this movie? Damn right I would! I love possession movies and this is one of my new favorites. Those of you who have been around for awhile will remember how much I loved American Guinea Pig: Song of Solomon, Luciferina is right up there with that film for me. I love seeing new elements added to demonic possession and this movie definitely does that. Don’t let the subtitles put you off, this is worth watching! You can get it on Blu-Ray and DVD November 20th wherever you buy movies and it’ll be on VOD December 4th so the wait is short to bring this dark Satanic tale home.