• May 28, 2023

“Il Signor Diavolo”, on Rai 3 the horror – gothic by Pupi Avati (scary, but what a pleasure) – iO Donna

V.he said immediately: Mr. Devilairing tonight June 9 on Rai 3 at 22, is a horror movie with all the trappings, therefore, seeing it, it could happen to jump, close your eyes or have the instinct to shake the hand of those close to you (if not, a pillow is also fine). It could happen. But, this should also be specified immediately, it is absolutely worth it. Because Mr. Devil is one of those films that “teaches”, awarded with the Nastro d’Argento 2020 as Best Subject. It is signed by Pupi Avati, a director who has put all of himself and the best of himself. Saying a masterpiece is too much, but a pillar of a genre and of a certain way of making cinema it certainly is.

Mr. Devil starts from a fault: having the “teeth of a pig”

It all takes place in a small village of few souls in the Venetian lagoon in the early 1950s. The story is gory: Charles (Filippo Franchini), a fearful and Catholic fourteen year old, kills a peer of his age, Emilio (Lorenzo Salvatori), “guilty” of having the upper dentition that resembles that of a pig. This defect makes it deformed, therefore ugly as to be frightening. And fearin that post-war peasant context, backward and superstitious, makes one think of the devil. “In peasant culture the different, the deformed is associated with the devil»Says father in the film Amedeo (Alessandro Haber), a priest who is suspected to have subjected little Emilio to an exorcism, before his death, to free him from “evil”.

mister devil plot actors

Andrea Roncato. (01 Distribution)

Between religious fanaticism and popular superstition

Carlo admits to killing Emilio because he thought he was possessed by the devil. And Carlo comes to think this because a series of shocking events occur that he “reads” with the mentality of the time, full of religious extremism and popular belief. Indeed the death of his best friend Pauline (Riccardo Claut) indirectly caused by Emilio, and the death of his father (Cesare Cremonini) occurred trying to kill a real pig to atone for the evil, become, from Carlo’s point of view, other proofs of Emilio’s “guilt”.

It could not be otherwise given that the sacristan Don Gino (Gianni Cavina, one of Avati’s favorite actors, who died at the age of 82 last March), in catechism he taught Charles, rather than to believe in God, to fear the devil. To fear him and respect him to the point of calling him “Mr. Devil” (hence the title of the film). The same suggestions also came to him from Don Zanini (Lino Capolicchioanother actor from Avati’s circle, who died in early May at the age of 78). Do not miss a wand at the DC of the time: in fact, an official of the Ministry of Justice is sent to investigate the case, Furio (Gabriele Lo Giudice), with the task of “silencing everything” given that such a case can create problems close to the elections.

Scary atmospheres and places, Avati master of “horror-gothic”

Mr. Devil has it all the elements of the classic horror to Dario Argento (it is no coincidence that the special effects are by Sergio Stivaletti, dear Dario Argento).

The protagonists with livid, hollow faces and hanging dark circles, the sounds that make you shiver, the dark that dominates and darkens, the neglect of Emilio’s mother’s broken stockings, Clara (Chiara Caselli), which denotes the overwhelming of pain, the distressing atmospheres, the macabre, almost satanic ritualswhich we focus on (for example the extraction of teeth, which in the film return as possible pig’s teeth delivered to Furio. The same Fury who is afraid of the dark and suffers from claustrophobia), serve to dye this artfully crafted film with fear.

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mister devil plot actors

Gianni Cavina and Lino Capolicchio. (01 Distribution)

Then the intrigue of history, which develops between ancestral beliefs and peasant fearswho have little of religious but use the Church as a defense weapon, recalling the medieval atmosphere of the witch hunt. And they perfectly fit the film into the “horror-gothic” stylewhich Avati himself kicked off with The house of laughing windows of ’76. Both films are shot in the lower Po valley, between Comacchio and Ro Ferrarese, rarefied and languid places, dear to the Bolognese director in which time seems motionless for millennia. «The territory of the Comacchio valleys remained to the men of the Stone Age, it is a place out of timeAvati said at the presentation of the film in 2019.


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