In the deep wilds of Columbia, through the mountains and past the forest filled with the bones of the animals which have died there, their decaying bodies scavenged, beyond the fields whose crops sway under the clear starlit sky and the full Moon, the bare branches of the tree which marks their mother’s grave reaching towards it like a skeleton arm, a man and his three daughters live in fear of the Devil.
Their mother Luz deeply missed, El Señor fiercely protects Laila, Uma and Zion, guiding them from sin and corruption, leading them in prayer by flickering candlelight at the dinner table even as he seeks for the messiah in the nearby villages once they are in bed, seizing children and dragging them in chains to their cabin in the hope that they will bring absolution and light.
A blond haired and blue eyed mute, El Señor calls the latest Jesus, but the wooden crosses on the hill attest he is at least the sixth to have been tested in this way, the previous false prophets having succumbed to hunger and cold, but temptation exists in many forms, the handsome woodsman Adán, the mysterious box of music which Laila believes to be the voice of angels, the knowledge that all is not right in their world.
The feature debut of writer/director Juan Diego Escobar Alzate, Luz: The Flower of Evil was screened in the Future Cult strand of the Glasgow Film Festival, a visual feast of the grandeur of unspoiled nature seen through the eyes of the naïve, children simple but not foolish, conditioned to believe and find purpose and intent in life and death, the change of the seasons and the growth or failure of the harvest.
Like many who claim piety, to act in keeping with the word of God in their personal interpretation, El Señor (Conrado Osorio) is a monster, his three daughters (Andrea Esquivel, Yuri Vargas and Sharon Guzman) seen as angels incarnate by Adán (Jim Muñoz) as he gazes on them bathing in the pool below the waterfall but they are women who are questioning their faith.
The hypnotic visuals of Luz: The Flower of Evil recalling the vistas of Baraka, the pacing is similar, a languid walk through the rivers of violent passions and betrayed devotion, frustrating in its fragmentary narrative – is it told out of sequence or are the patterns of their lives doomed to repeat? – but like The Witch and Them That Follow there is a power in the primal themes and deeply felt performances.