Crying baby, frightening toys, disturbing music. A teenager enters the room, leans towards the cradle and, instead of the expected kiss, bites into the child’s body.
We see drops of blood on the floor. The opening credits roll. So begins “Mr. Devil”, filmed by the Italian director Pupi Avati.
Events begin in Rome 1952. Inspector Momente, played by Gabriel Lo Giudice, comes to the Ministry of Pardons and Justice. This is his first mission in 2 years. Before that, he was not trusted with anything except paperwork. The boss tells the essence of the matter: a juvenile kills a peer, convinced that he killed the master of the devil. The task is delicate, because the crime was committed by a student of a church school and the materials on it are classified. Someone believes that the nuns and the sacristan pushed the boy to this. Elections are ahead and the investigation requires delicacy. The protagonist is sent to Veneto in northeastern Italy.
Momente comes to visit his father at the charity house before leaving. He falls in love with a nurse he meets in the ward. Then he rides on the train in the corridor, because the seats in the compartment are occupied. On the way, he studies the case of Carlo Margiorgi.
In the interrogation scene, we learn that the accused (Filippo Franchini) met the victim (Lorenzo Salvatori) near his house. His friend Paulino (Riccardo Klout) laughed at the fact that the guy can’t ride a bike. The accused tells about the day of communion. At the service, Emilio trips Paulino, he steps on the host. The priest stops the ceremony because he considered it blasphemy. Paulino fell ill the next day and died soon after.
After the sudden death of a comrade, Margeorgie wants to see him. Taking the advice of a madman, he feeds his host to a boar, in the hope that this will help him return. But it doesn’t work. Then he confesses to the nun what he has done.
Carlo’s father kills a boar. When they return home, the father lies dead with a disfigured face. Next to him is the gun from which the boar was shot. He did not tell anything about his suspicions to the carabinieri. Decided not to believe him.
Thunder. Meeting at night with the “possessed”. He says that Margiorgi himself killed his friend. A frightened teenager shoots him with a slingshot and is shot in the eye. Dying Emilio asks to be sheltered.
Interrogation of the mother of the mentally ill – Clara Vesti Musi. The woman says that her son’s seizures began when he was not yet a year old. He was treated with electric shock. Then they took me to Switzerland and tried radiation treatment. The boy was rarely with his parents, almost all the time he was in hospitals. The mother thinks that her son perceives his parents as executioners. He had no brothers and sisters. Couldn’t get pregnant. They adopted a premature girl named Valeria. Emilio lost his head after the death of his sister. After that, he was placed in a psychiatric hospital. Clara believes that her son was killed due to religious superstitions.
The investigator arrives at the hotel. The porter brings him a letter. There are two teeth inside. He takes them to the dentist. He suggests that these are the teeth of a wild pig. And he adds that he thought that they were no longer found in these parts.
Then he learns the details of the autopsy from the doctor. There was a rupture of the internal carotid artery. The professor who performed the autopsy was distracted. He returned irritated. The autopsy report was not signed because there were violations of the procedure. The mother tried to protect her son from the ridicule of people and asked the professor, if he finds something anomalous, not to tell others about it.
The inspector meets with the accused. He asks about the fangs of a boar. Turns out it’s the teeth of a mental patient. Gino, the sacristan knows what’s under the church. That’s all the boy can share.
Further, the inspector finds out from the nun that Clara took her sick child to the exorcist. This gave rise to rumors and conjectures.
The monk says that you should not take this case. An ugly appearance and a damaged mind can become grounds for him to be considered cursed in the village. In every possible way he tries to justify the attacks of other people on the mentally ill.
Meeting with Clara Vesti Muzi. Mother speaks of the troubles that faith brings. The ministers of the church and the government were worried before the elections. Due to the threat of reputational surpluses, interested parties want to hide the true motives of the murder.
Boss’s call. You need to return to Rome. It turns out that the secrecy of the task has been violated. On the way home, the hero’s internal dialogue takes place. He reflects on the opportunity to prove his worth and professionalism. Stops at the church to spend the night. From the man who gives him a place to sleep, he learns about Don Dario and Gino. The sacristan doesn’t want to be found. Waking up at night with baby crying. The sound comes from under the slab in the main hall of the church. A man who agreed to let him in for the night to the question “Are there any children here?” replies no.
The investigator meets with the Mother Superior. He learns that Sister Dolores has been dead for a month. He decides to go in search of the sacristan, he must know what is happening here.
Gino gives the parish register for 1943. The book confirms the fact that the girl was brought in a mutilated state in a fruit basket.
They go “down” and break open the hatch. They need to find the same basket in which they brought the torn body of the girl. The inspector descends alone. Finds a basket with a mutilated girl. The sacristan raises the ladder. Carlo appears behind him, with fangs like Emilio’s. The investigator is left locked in the basement, he experiences from childhood a familiar fear of closed space and darkness.
The meaning of the film
The “Lord of the Devil” touches upon several topics, not that eternal, but still relevant, giving thought or discussion. What price can a childish prank or a cruel joke have? How can a person’s appearance affect how society perceives them? How different is religion from superstition? How does a believing boy get a desire to turn to mysticism and witchcraft? Why and how are people formed, whom the authorities are ready to waste, to make scapegoats out of them? The theme of maternal love was also touched upon. This love has roots outside of social morality and therefore may seem like something too irrational.
As viewers, we are led to a terrible ending. A complicated case involving the murder of a peer from a parish school, the investigator’s attempts to figure out what is happening lead to the fact that the answers found remain buried in the basement of the church. And fangs appear at Carlo. Evil remains in the world.
At the end, Momente remains locked in the basement and again faces childhood fears. He had the opportunity to go home, but he wanted to know the truth. Maybe you should go home?
Characteristics of heroes
- Dr. Furio Momente. Suffering from nyctophobia. Difficult relationship with father. Soft, doesn’t mind management. Deprived of the attention of girls. Falls in love at first sight with a girl who works in the hospital where his father is. Melancholy.
- Margiorgi Carlo. Minor. He grew up in a complete family, helps his father to take the urine of pregnant women, which is needed for the production of medicines. Strongly attached to his only friend. Believer, pious.
- Paulino. His friend. Masterfully shoots from a slingshot. In love with the local beauty Liu. He even managed to see her naked.
- Servant of Dolores. Cousin of the accused.
- Lew. Gorgeous. Naked in one scene in front of Carlo. The viewer can only enjoy the view from the back no lower than the shoulders. Shoulders are magical.
- Emilio Vesteri Musi. Repulsive appearance. He tripped during the holy day of the first communion, one boy stepped on the host. Coarse hair on the arms “like pig bristles.” In his first service as a servant, he vomited. Knows other people’s thoughts. Angry at the world and others. He spent all his childhood in various medical institutions away from his parents. Revengeful.
- Laura. She works at a charity home as a nurse. The inspector is in love with her. She has been in a relationship with another man for about a year.
- Gino. Serves as a sacristan in the church of Santa Maria della Neve.
Horror, thriller, detective. Which of these was more successful for the director? The whole film seeps mysticism, it is not clear why Paulino died, was he tortured by conscience or is it the action of evil forces? Why is a person entrusted with investigating a task, who was not previously trusted with matters more important than parsing archival papers? Why is it so important for local residents to hide the truth? Watch the movie Mr. Devil and draw your own conclusions.