Everyone Will Burn
2023, NR, 125 min. Directed by David Hebrero. Starring Macarena Gómez, Sofía García.
REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., Dec. 1, 2023
A striking image sets the mood at the beginning of Everyone Will Burn: an officer with flames engulfing his body on the side of the road, the flickering flames contrasting against the pale blue sky as two people – a woman and a child – flee the scene in a pale yellow classic Mercedes.
The color blocking in Everyone Will Burn (Y todos arderán in the original Spanish) is certainly gorgeous. Pops of yellow, red, green, and blue are structured beautifully in the film, shot by cinematographer Ona Isart and director David Hebrero himself. There’s a decadence to the set design and costuming: floral wallpaper, luxurious robes and coats, and ornate architecture. Each color adds texture to the scenes, from cold and calculated blues for the church to inviting greens and yellows in the home of grieving mother María José (Gómez). The palette adds a vibrancy that feels fresh and alive, but it can only do so much lifting to distract from an overlong script and muddled plot.
Hebrero’s faith-based feature is a slow-paced horror film, the kind that if done right can evoke gripping tension, but here it’s a bit bloated. Hebrero and co-writer Javier Kiran’s script is dragged down by mountains of exposition in a conspiracy plot that’s more convoluted than it is layered. There’s a lot going on: church corruption, townspeople gossip, a mother in mourning, and a prophecy that dictates everyone’s actions. Set in the homely village of León, Spain, the film revolves around María José, distraught over the loss of her son, Lolo, but given a second chance at motherhood when a young girl, Lucía (García), stops her from jumping off a bridge.
This is the kind of horror movie where chaos should start reigning immediately, but it doesn’t rain fire and brimstone fast enough. Instead, Everyone Will Burn drags, repeating the same conversations over and over again. There is a melodramatic quality that provides some respite, like when María José loses her mind and starts yelling at anyone near her, eyes wide with tears, teeth bared like fangs, and spittle shooting out of her mouth. Gómez’s soapy performance offers some bite to a film that’s largely beat-for-beat predictable.
In the end, maybe prophecies are sometimes set in place for a reason, and everyone in the little town of León should have burned for being so painfully predictable.