To most of you in the english speaking regions, the name Pupi Avati most likely doesn’t ring a bell., but movie buffs may remember him as the director of The House With The Laughing Windows, and this movie (title translates to “Mr. Devil”, roughly, and came out a couple of days ago in Italy) marks its return to the horror genre since 1996’s The Mysterious Enchanter.
Set in the northern Italy of 1952, the movie follows a ministry inspector, Furiò (yes, with an “i”) Momentè, tasked to clean the reputation of the church regarding the murder of a teen, believed to be possessed by the locals, killed by a fourtheen year old boy named Carl. As he travels to Venice to investigate, he reads the reports of previous interrogatories with the boy, learning of how Carl and his friend Paul lived happily, until the arrival of Emilio, the deformed single heir of a powerful woman, and popular opinion is that he tore to pieces his own little sister.
Paul shows off and publicly humiliates Emilio, whom, angered, snarls at him with monstruous teeth, and weird things start happening in the archaic small town, still largely beholden to supersistion and a tangible, fearful belief in the Devil.
It’s an old school horror movie, in many ways (there some practical gore done by Sergio Stivaletti, better known for his work with Dario Argento), with a good atmosphere, and it’s intriguing to see the inspector wading through the files and trying to discern the truth, wrapped as it is in a shroud of confusion and beliefs borne from pious peasant minds prone to burn the witch, all serving a conflict of religious and political interests, with an ambiguous but satisfying outcome.
Quite good, despite the “slo-mo” effects being a little too “old school”.