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Fantastic Fest 2022: Everyone Will Burn Review

September 25, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Everyone Will Burn Image Credit: Raven Banner Entertainment
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Fantastic Fest 2022: Everyone Will Burn Review  

Directed by: David Hebrero
Written by: David Hebraro & Javier Kiran

Macarena Gómez – María José
Sofía García – Lucía
Rodolfo Sancho – David
Ana Milán – Teresa
Rubén Ochandiano – Juan
Germán Torres – Padre Abelino
Fernando Cayo – Honorio
Ella Kweku – Ari
Guillermo Estrella – Toti
Saturnino García – Padre Gabriel
Raquel Lobelos – Remedios

Image Credit: Raven Banner Entertainment

Running Time: 112 minutes

There are few things better in horror than a creepy child. Killer children are always a winner when it comes to the genre whether it’s Damian, Esther, Samara, Malachi or any other variety. It’s the idea of evil lurking behind the guise of innocence, of course; even when the execution lags, they are at least building from a classic concept that is hard to screw up.

Lucia, the creepy child upon which Everyone Will Burn (Y Todos Arderan) rests its lens, continues that tradition. David Hebrero’s sophomore feature film features a strong performance from Sofia Garcia as our evil little girl, but it doesn’t rest on those laurels. The Spanish-language horror film, which had its North American premiere at Fantastic Fest, supplements that central conceit with an emotionally engaging story, a nice blend of genres and compelling cast work.

After a title card suggesting some dark things in the small village in Spain where our tale is set, Everyone Will Burn presents us with a woman about to jump off a bridge. This woman is María José (Macarena Gomez), who has been traumatized and spiraling since the death of her bullied son Lolo years before. Wearing her Sunday best, she prepares to leap to her own death when a voice behind her says, “Mama?”

This is not, however, her son. It is instead a young girl with achondroplasia, covered in mud. Jolted out of her plans, María José takes the girl to her car so she can drive her to the nearest police station. But it soon becomes clear that the girl – Lucia, of course — is far from your average girl, and the village of Rozas del Monte has a past and prophecy that may well relate to her.

For María José however, none of that matters. Lucia says her father has plans, and they involve María José. Lucia then starts to serve as her new “Mama’s” child, but also her embodiment of karma that metes out justice to those she holds responsible for Lolo’s death years ago. As bodies begin to pile up, María José must decide whether to side with the town that stood by after her son died or the murderous girl whose arrival may portend more apocalyptic events.

The devilish antics of Everyone Will Burn play out against the backdrop of an Omen-style prophecy, but Hebrero and co-writer Javier Kiran twist the perspective to see things through the eyes of a woman for whom that culmination isn’t such a bad thing. It’s a “Good For Her” take on the story, propped up by Macarena Gomez’s simmering performance as María José. Gomez serves as the audience’s eyes, appropriately horrified during a heart-stoppingly good early scene involving a police traffic stop but slowly growing to find herself drawn to this child – not only for what she can do in the way of vengeance, but also as a second chance to be a mother.

The push-and-pull between María José and Lucia forms the backbone of the film from which Herbero can build. García invests Lucia with little smiles here and there that hint at how evil she is, but she also acts as a comforting presence for her assigned mother.

It is this sympathy that allows Herbero to present the duo as perhaps not the villains of the piece, especially when there are plenty of other odious examples living in the town. The script is filled with themes about the perils of religious zealotry and tribalism; the town’s cult-like nature is enhanced by the small-town gossip overtones. To this town, anyone who isn’t one of them is othered and they find something to pick at and tear down whether it’s bigoted references to Lucia’s dwarfism, María José’s inability to move past her grief, or degrading the dead Lolo as being “different,” even after his death.

While there are a number of creepy moments here and some genuinely disturbing images, Herbero often seems interested in exploring his themes and unpeeling the layers of this toxic small-town atmosphere. That may be a turn off for the more gore-loving horror hounds, though there is enough nasty stuff to keep things moving along.

The mashup of genres here twists between grief drama, slapstick horror, soap opera catfights and apocalyptic (even cosmic in one scene) dread. For some that could cause tonal whiplash, but it’s generally well handled. There is a point late in the film during an extended home invasion where it feels like things have gone on a bit too long, but it’s shortly after that things start barreling to a conclusion where “satisfying” will depend on who you side with. And for my money, this is one of those films where it’s kind of hard not to have sympathy for the devil.

Fantastic Fest takes place in person from September 22nd through the 29th, and @Home from September 29th through October 4th.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
David Hebrero's Everyone Will Burn is a genre-sliding exploration of small-town danger, tribalist mindsets and motherhood wrapped in a devilishly smart horror tale. Anchored by top-notch performances from Macarena Gómez and Sofía García, it is likely to keep audiences wound up enough to paper over its minor pacing and runtime issues. This is an impressive second film from Hebrero, and one that has me hoping he'll keep working in genre as he clearly has quite the knack for it.