The House of the Laughing Windows ★★★★★

I usually am not into the giallo genre outside of the classics like Argento, Bava, or Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling." They're dull, predictable and so painfully dated as to be laughable. I saw "The House With Laughing Windows" after it first came out on DVD in the U.S., and it left an indelible impression on me. It's a haunting, weird slow-boil in the same way that "Don't Look Now" is. You know right from the start something is off when Stefan arrives in a rural Italian town to restore frescoes. Events build from there to a full-blown nightmare. Stories by literary horror writers like H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti and Robert Aickman often deal with characters visiting strange places and tumbling into nightmare realities, and Avati's film is in that tradition. There's barely any gore and little sleaze usually associated with Italian horror, but the story and atmosphere work so much better here than in the gialli that just pile those things on as they trundle toward a lame killer reveal.

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