Shot in 2013 as Controra and released as House of Shadows writer/director Rossella De Venuto’s haunted house tale is now out in North America under the title Midday Demons.
Controra is a Southern Italian term referring to the hottest part of the day. That’s when, traditionally, things shut down and people take a nap. Having lived in Gaeta for a couple of years in my youth I can’t argue with their logic. What I didn’t know at that time was it has alleged supernatural properties.
Megan (Fiona Glascott, Resident Evil, The Siege of Jadotville) is an artist living in Dublin. Her husband Leo (Pietro Ragusa, Evil Things) is an Italian immigrant who needs to return home to deal with family matters. His uncle Monsignor Domenico (Salvatore Lazzaro) has died leaving him a house that his brother is willing to buy from him.
But more importantly, his uncle was allegedly a powerful healer and is already being investigated for sainthood. Against his advice, (“It’ll be boring”) she decides to accompany him.
Father Van Galen (Ray Lovelock, The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man) conducts his investigation into the Monsignor. As he does Megan begins having nightmarish visions. She begins investigating the cause of them. Could it be the man of God wasn’t as saintly as people think?
Something of a rarity in Italian horror, Midday Demons was both written and directed by a woman. Which may explain the different perspectives it takes from much of Italy’s horror fare. The film is something of a slow burn, with very little unusual happening in the first half-hour or so. It’s also a very restrained film, almost a mystery with supernatural trimmings rather than horror. If Italy has a Lifetime Channel this could play on it.
The film’s pacing is also a problem. As noted it starts out as a slow burn. But then it ends up rushing the climax which actually has what should be some very effective moments. But they get rushed past and lose a good deal of impact. Midday Demons really needed a shorter build-up and a longer payoff.
Watchable but bland, Midday Demons is available on streaming platforms via 1844 Entertainment. You can get more info on it’s Facebook page. The page for its original release can be found here if you’re curious.