Review: Steeped in Religious Frenzy, Everyone Will Burn Offers a Chilling Revenge Story

From director/co-writer David Hebrero (Dulcinea), Everyone Will Burn is a terrifying revenge story, the likes of which I have never seen. The film opens in a small village in Leon, Spain, where María José (Macarena Gomez) is about to jump off a bridge after years of being tormented by the memory of her son committing suicide because he was bullied for being a dwarf. Right as she’s about to jump, a little girl named Lucia (Sofía García) appears, covered in dirt and mostly silent (except for calling María José “Mom”), but clearly there to save the woman from death. As María José drives Lucia to her home in the village, two cops pull her over. By the end of the exchange, both officers are brutally killed and María José is in full panic mode.

Everyone Will Burn is a lot of movie, which throws in nods to films like The Omen and The Exorcist, but the truth is, it owes its biggest debt to folk horror movies from the 1960s and ’70s. There’s a legend in the town that decades earlier, the residents sacrificed a child to appease the devil and avoid an apocalypse. But as the earth’s ice caps melt at an alarming rate and crops in the village are dying, those who are more religiously inclined believe another sacrifice may be necessary. All that stirs up María José’s remembrances of a time when her son was pushed by the children of these same zealots, who now have their eye on Lucia as a possible sacrificial lamb. As the situation gets worse, the truth about the town’s history and current state begins to be revealed, along with many years of corruption, lies, and sadistic secrets, some of which are committed by the mayor’s family and the local clergy.

Residents begin suffering violent deaths, and before long María José is accused of summoning an evil entity that wants nothing short of swallowing the town whole and fulfilling a prophecy to end the world. The performances in Everyone Will Burn are fantastic across the board, especially those of Gomez and García. When María José starts realizing that she can use Lucia as a weapon against those who torment her and call her psycho, that’s when the film gets downright nasty. And yes, people do occasionally spontaneously combust from time to time. How could you not be impressed with a film that has actual villagers marching to a home to kill a monster with pitchforks and other practical weapons? Aside from running a bit too long for its limited subject matter, the movie is a solid statement on the results of bullying, religious zealotry, and the art of being a small town gossip. And forget that goofy pilgrim from Thanksgiving; Lucía is the next great horror icon.

The film is playing in a limited theatrical run currently, and will be available digitally on December 5.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.