If you were to ask me what kind of film I would make if given the chance it would be The House of the Devil. The 1980’s were without a doubt the best and most glorious time period in horror cinema. So, the idea of setting a movie in that most superbly macabre of all decades and using laser-like exactitude in recreating the ambience and particulars with renewed fervor makes me a most pleased man.
Director Ti West has essentially made the perfect homage film. It doesn’t add anything new to the horror genre nor is it exceedingly bloody or chocked full of T&A. It is, however, the best ‘80s horror film not made in the ‘80s. And that is what makes it so great. If you had a theoretical hot tub with time machine capacities and were to place this film on the shelves of a (probably long closed by now) Blockbuster circa 1988, no one would know it was from the future.
As a slow burner (the best kind of horror) the film is able to capture the sense of dread and outright horror that is so often lacking in modern horror. Think Rosemary’s Baby or The Changeling (two of the scariest films ever made) and you got it. Keep in mind; if you don’t like movies that build tension over time and force your imagination to run wild, you won’t like this film. If that is the case, then I recommend the next Saw movie, I hear Michael Bay was brought into to create more “Xplosions.”
Broke as a joke Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) needs money. Tom Noonan needs a babysitter and has cash. It seems like a match made in Heav…err…Hell. It just so happens to be the night of a lunar eclipse. Tom lives in a big scary house and seems like a shady dude (like Satanic crazy shady). Samantha, instead of running like the wind, accepts the job. You gotta love it when every possible sign points one way and the actress takes the other. As a viewer, you know right were this is going, if you are the kind of person that likes to yell at characters on your television, be prepared to lose your voice.
I don’t jump (really, I swear) often while watching horror, but while watching The House of the Devil I jumped three times. No cheap scares either. It was real. I turned on a light.
The end of the film is the only part I consider a let down. There seems to be a slight departure from the vibe that was so meticulously built up until then. Specifically, the satanic ritual was a bit off and some of the Satanists just didn’t do it for me. Tis truly a minor detail in the overall brilliant tapestry that West created.
If you are going to watch a horror film made in the last 5 years and want to be legitimately scared, you have two choices: The Descent or The House of the Devil.
Snore Factor Z