Il demonio (1963)

aka The Demon
Article 2671 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-20-2008
Posting Date: 12-5-2008
Directed by Brunello Rondi
Featuing Daliah Lavi, Frank Wolff, Anna Maria Aveta
Country: France/Italy

A woman is believed to be a witch by local villagers. Is she a witch? Is she possessed by the devil? Or is it possible that she might simply be mad?

Given the fact that this movie has a 5.2 rating on IMDB, I’m under the impression that the movie has only a lukewarm reputation. And given the fact that I watched an unsubtitled version of the movie (it’s been dubbed into another language, but not into English), there’s no doubt that any evaluation I give may well be quite flawed. I found myself rather fascinated by this one, though anyone expecting a straightforward horror movie may walk away disappointed. To me, the movie seemed ambiguous; though the woman may indeed be a witch, I felt that she was more sinned against than sinning, seeing how she’s beaten, raped, humiliated, and has other indignities heaped upon her on a regular basis. Daliah Lavi gives a great, if very strange, performance here, and shows an almost contortionistic flexibility on occasion, especially during an exorcism sequence. There are memorable scenes here, such as the aforesaid exorcism sequence, and a scene where the woman braves a barrier of barbed wire so that she can embrace a tree. I wasn’t surprised by the ending; given all that went before, it seemed inevitable. All in all, I found it a very sad movie, and I hope that I can find a subtitled version at some time so I can appreciate it better.


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