♣♣♣♣♣ out of ♣♣♣♣♣
I want to start off bold because this movie got to me- This might be my new favorite horror film. I must also clear up the distinction between “scary movies” and “horror films.” This is a fine example of the later. Aside from the PG-13 Prom Nights and Shutters as well as your typical R Saw, Hostel, and any other of the recent remakes of 80s flicks, sits a genre of film so close to my heart- horror. When I go to a scary movie I want to jump in my seat, I want to see awesome and gross special effects, I want to shove popcorn in my face. On the other hand, when I see a horror movie I’m signing up for something different. I want to be on the edge of my seat, I want to be disturbed, I want to feel the panic that characters feel, I want to be scared. The House of the Devil does just that, and without any of the tricks and CGI that accompanies so many movies these days.
Released in 2009 HOTD looks like it was shot in 1983- straight down to the grainy film stock and the huge cassette tape player with big black headphones. (Although, during the pizza place scene toward the beginning the sign in the background says “Margarita Pizza” on sale- did they have that in ’83?) It is set sometime in the early 80s, and the detail is painstakingly dead-on. I literally could not tell that this movie was made a year ago, I was convinced it was some gem I’d never caught when I was a kid, and was blown away when I found out. HOTD manages to pull off sheer terror with simplicity.
A broke college girl takes a babysitting job in the middle of nowhere and, of course, at the wrong house. Turns out there aren’t any kids, just the old lady sleeping in the upstairs room. I guess no one responds to “elderlysitter” anymore? Anyway, some time during the night the strange noises start coming from upstairs, while outside there is a full lunar eclipse. There are no quick-and-flashy edits here, no thundering sound effects to try to scare us, just a lot of long and stable camera work that follows the heroine around the house. There are a few instances where the camera lingers beyond the girl’s frame of sight, revealing to the audience what the heroine doesn’t know, and they are shocking and effective.
Toward the end all hell breaks loose, literally, and where any other movie would spend the last half of the film with a never-ending chase scene, HOTD picks up fast, and leaves off just as quick. Once the blood begins to flow, the climax of the movie is upon us, and the burner gets cranked up to HI. All the while the subtle-yet-scary scraping of strings soundtrack slowly grates away at our ears… what else do you need in a horror movie?!
In my opinion, House of the Devil is one of the great horror films in the last few years. It’s a horror film disguised as a scary movie from 1983. I strongly recommend it for any fans of suspense (there is little gore and only at the end) no matter if you are a horror buff or not. See this movie soon!! THIS MOVIE IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 14 AT LEAST (AND THOSE 14 YEAR OLDS WILL LOVE IT I’M SURE)
“House of the Devil” Directed by Ti West Starring Jocelin Donahue and Tom Noonan Rated R for Some Bloody (good) Violence