Sunday, 12 February 2012

10/02/2012: The House of The Devil [2009]

With the recent release of The Innkeepers, I had been hearing a lot about Ti West. As such I decided to get myself a copy of The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil. Having now seen both I can safely say that Ti West is definitely going somewhere, and not just as a horror director but as a film maker. The House of The Devil is definitely my favourite, but both are amazing films. The House of the Devil is just superior and shows just how much Ti West knows about his art form.

The House of the Devil is a horror movie that is in every sense a homage to the horror movies of the late 70's and 80's. Playing on the real societal fear of Satanic cults during that time period. The film itself is set in the 1980's, approximately 1983 or later. Even the filming style and method are reminiscent of the time.

I think that is the sign of a great filmmaker. Instead of trying to capture only one element of the time period, he captured it all. The filming style uses techniques from the 80's, the movies special edition was released as a clamshell VHS tape. The posters, effects and style all capture the what the movie is mimicking.

The opening credits were one of my favourite references to the 80's.
The movies story is of course, the most important part. All the style and gimmicks would be for nothing if the story wasn't good. As a good horror movie the story is no complex multi-dimensional, flashback filled jumble, you have to dissect later. The events are straightforward and take place on the night of a lunar eclipse. A college girl, in need of money, takes up a babysitting offer which is not all it appears to be.

The movie is all about the set-up, and that is what makes it so god damn terrifying. It starts with introducing  Samantha and her life, building her world and the setting. It then starts throwing in the clues and mysteries that build suspense. When it finally chooses to turn on the scares it is not a temporary shock. The movie grabs your heart from your test as you sit there scared as the climax unfolds.

Would you like extra anchovies with that? Oh wait, you're not the babysitter?
Backing up the movies all ready great mix of elements is of course the cast. The cultist are undoubtedly disturbing and creepy to begin.  Greta Gertwig play the 80's perfectly. Jocelin Donahue is the true star however, being the character with about all of the screen time. She does great though, and creates an innocent character in over her head who you can't help but feel sorry for and hopes manages to survive.

She probably could have avoided all this if it weren't for her horrible vision.
However I must stress that my favourite part of this movie was the setting and props. The house was perfect, with it's maze of rooms and multiple stairways and hallways. The tiny things like rotary telephones, tapedecks, greasy old Pizza Pizza (complete with box), it even include a great dancing montage.

All in all though this movies reviews are all over the board. It is definitely a slow burn horror, and many can't handle it. I think the slow burn is the best way to get scares. Not just buckets of blood every few minutes. Some people hate it, thinking 2/3 of a movie showing some girl exploring a house is just boring. Others recognize it's originality even though it's such a great homage to the 80's movies that inspired it. I think after seeing The Innkeepers as well, that you'll either love Ti West or not. Then again he did do Cabin Fever 2, which while I haven't seen I'm sure will please the gore-hounds.

The House of the Devil IMDB

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