Zeder ★★★½

Pupi Avati's sci-fi-dusted zombie/giallo flick is about as weird and singular as that sounds. The kind of bizarre genre picture that would be a let down if you expected full-on flesh-munching for 90 minutes, but also incredibly mystifying if you were expecting some black-glove murder-mystery.

This is neither film? Yet both? It begins with a prologue that feels as though we're entering the 3rd act of a mid-tier Fulci flick with a girl being attacked by a mysterious force in a basement.
We're then introduced to Gabriele Lavia and his wife Anna Canovas as she's gifting him an antique typewriter for his birthday. Lavia discovers ominous scripture imprinted on the ribbon and it leads him down a rabbit hole to figure out who owned this typewriter and what this sinister text means. Revelations, bursts of violence, and an opaque sci-fi conspiracy slowly culminates into quite an engaging nightmare with a splash of the undead.

It's hard not to compare this to Pupi Avati's earlier masterpiece, The House with Laughing Windows, a film I still consider to be the scariest giallo I have ever seen. There he flexed his prowess to surgically craft a deep layer of disturbing dread and suffocating intrigue, a haunting vision of ornate angles and domineering shadows.
Here, the stylization isn't quite as pronounced. Lavia is a strong presence though and there's a Stephen King-esque flair to the concept, even a touch of Prince of Darkness as the oozing conspiracy of it all leads us to something supernaturally menacing. There's lulls, the editing is a bit rough, and it's all a bit uneven... but it accumulates this silky existential paranoia that calcifies with that tragic ending.

Definitely pales in comparison to the aforementioned banger, The House with Laughing Windows (seriously seek that out!) but overall I definitely dug this and expect to get more out of it on a rewatch.

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