• Luciferina (Artsploitation Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: November 20th, 2018.
    Director: Gonzalo Calzada
    Cast: Sofía Del Tuffo, Marta Lubos, Pedro Merlo, Malena Sánchez, Francisco Donovan
    Year: 2018
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    Luciferina – Movie Review:

    With Luciferina, Argentinean writer/director Gonzalo Calzada tells the story of a nineteen-year-old virginal novice nun named Natalia (Sofía Del Tuffo). When she learns that her mother is dead and that her father is not long for this world, she returns home to visit with him one last time, but before she leaves the convent, she’s given a strange necklace from a kitchen worker. Natalia also has a strange habit (no pun intended) of having her eyes roll back into her head as she ascertains the aura of various living things that she comes into contact with. It’s rather eerie to see – she’s clearly a little different than your average Bride Of Christ.

    At any rate, when she makes it home, she learns what happened to her father – he was attacked by her late mother, a painter with a fixation on ghoulish imagery, clearly in touch with her dark side. This attack has left her father comatose. Natalia’s sister, Ángela (Malena Sánchez), tells her sister that something is off in the home, and that ever since she went off to the convent she’s been up to less than Christian behavior. When her ass of a boyfriend, Mauro (Francisco Donovan), got her pregnant and she lost the baby, she’s started wondering if what they’ve believed all these years is really true – what if their parents aren’t really their parents after all? With an interest and some experience in the occult, Ángela plans to use her abilities in an arcane rite called an Ayahuasca ritual to reveal the truth about their heritage, all while Natalia starts to suffer from strange visions. As the two sisters head into the jungle in hopes of finding the truth, things go from weird to weirder as everything Natalia had been raised to believe in is called into question.

    A dark and at times almost hallucinogenic film, Luciferina runs about twenty-minutes longer than it needs to but it pays off, particularly for those with an affinity for occult themed and Satanic horror. The story is interesting and does a good job of bringing us into Natalia’s plight, and while the movie does deal in the types of clichés that you expect from the genre, it throws in a few nice twists in its last half hour where things really start to go off the rails. Made on a modest budget, there are a few scenes where some less than impressive CGI stands out like a sore thumb, but otherwise production values are quite good here. The lighting and cinematography are top notch, helping immensely to conjure up an appropriately dark tone that works very much in the movie’s favor. The score is also good, appropriate to what’s happening on screen and helpful in creating tension.

    Performances here are more than decent. Sofía Del Tuffo is well-cast in the lead. She’s striking and attractive but has a sort of wholesomeness to her appearance befitting someone who would dedicate their life to the church. Her performance here is good. So too is Malena Sánchez as her troubled sister. She looks far less innocent and quite a bit more devious and the two talented young actresses play well off of one another’s traits.

    Luciferina – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen transfer presents the film in 1080p high definition on a 25GB disc and it is tough to find much to complain about here. Shot digitally, the image is understandably pristine, there’s no damage or grain or debris of any kind. The color scheme in the film is intentionally muted at times but this works in the context of the story being told, it suits the tone of the movie rather well. Still, colors do pop sometimes and are reproduced accurately enough. Black levels are good and while there’s a tiny bit of crush in a couple of spots, this is otherwise pretty much problem free. Detail is strong throughout and there’s a good bit of depth here as well.

    The main audio option on the disc is a Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with subtitles provided in English and in English SDH. There’s good directionality and depth here, the movie’s clever use of sound building atmosphere and tension well thanks to the surround channels. No issues with any hiss or distortion to note and the subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read. A Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included, but unfortunately there’s no lossless option provided here. Maybe some day Artsploitation Films will start using lossless audio on their releases but for now, lossy or not, the audio quality here is fine even if it doesn’t take full advantage of the format.

    The lone extra on the disc is a trailer for the feature. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Luciferina – The Final Word:

    Luciferina has some pacing issues but otherwise turns out to be quite a worthwhile film for those with an interesting in occult or satanic themed horror pictures. The cinematography is great, the performances from the two leads quite strong and the movie throws in a few unforgettable twists and memorable set pieces to completement a well-constructed atmosphere of palpable dread. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Luciferina Blu-ray screen caps!