The House of the Laughing Windows ★★★★½

While other italian horror directors were busy making linear and predictable giallos, Pupi Avati made his own beast of the horror genre. The House With Laughing Windows combines dark and dirty atmosphere with brutal murders and a complete mindfuck of a story.

The opening sequence have to be among the creepiest things I've ever seen. The images are raw and dirty-filtered, depicting a man being brutally stabbed over a creepy soundtrack. The music is dissonant and disharmonical and to top it all a dark voice is reading a crazy poem about the deliciousness of paint. This sequence is sharply kicking us right into the dark and creepy atmosphere of the film.

The story is like a creepier and much more disturbing version of The Wicker Man. An art restorer is taken to a small italian town to restore a church painting depicting the brutal murder of a man. The creepy atmosphere is reigning all over the town from all the bizarre characters to the old and derelict houses. Even as Stephano (the restorer) seems very down to earth and fearless at the start, his credulity is gradually turned towards the opposite.

The story may be criticized for having a lot of holes and leaving many unanswered questions, but the fact is that it would have never been the same without it. The viewers understands just as little as Stephano, and the feeling of confusion works rather efficient. Because of all the unanswered questions the film continued to haunt me for days after I had watched it. Even if the story seems quickly sewed together, the main lines do have a clever back-story to them.

The horror is based upon atmosphere and the slowly pacing plot. You will not find any sudden shocks or exaggerated gore. Even as it was made in the middle of the giallo-periode, it doesn't really have that many of the trend's conventions. This film is actually very honest in its horror elements, and is still among the scariest things I have seen.

The House With Laughing Windows really is an overlooked gem. The atmosphere easily tops my list of the creepiest things ever. Even if the story has its holes, the atmosphere really outperforms every other aspects of the film. The film leaves you creeped out and confused over what you just saw.