MOVIE REVIEWS

House of the Devil

7/10 NR

April 25, 2009

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By far, the SLOWEST horror film I've ever watched! Really don't waste the 95 mins it'll take to watch and be stupidly disappointed (stupidly, because you'll feel like an idiot for getting to the end of the film and realising you were being taken for one the whole time!). This film's writer/Director/producer(s) were clearly so besotted with false nostalgia for horror films of the 80s, that they misguidedly picked the worst flaws of the worst films of that era and replicated them here, believing themselves to be making something 'authentic' and true to that time. What they actually made would've been called crap then as much as it should be now! 90 mins of creeping around with no plausible characters, situations or even anything resembling actual *suspense*; then 5 mins of "whooaaah, look: blood and satanic ritual! Isn't that scary?!" Answer: NO, IT BLOODY WELL ISN'T! Now give me back the last 95 mins, you fools!

This one night changes everything for me.

Ti West seems destined to be one of those horror film directors who forever will polarise opinions. For those of us who love the slow burn approach and admire his evident adoration of retro horror, then he hits the mark. Reference The House of the Devil and latterly The Innkeepers. If those two things don't strike a chord with you then it's very likely that The House of the Devil will drive you nuts - but not in a good way.

Plot is simple, Jocelin Donahue plays student Samantha Hughes, who has found the ideal apartment to live in, but needs funds to pay the deposit. Sooooo, answering a flyer advertising for a babysitter, she winds up at some spooky house out in the sticks, where the job isn't exactly what was as expected, and, well the night isn't as expected either...

It's her own fault really, if you ring the bell at a spooky isolated house and Tom Noonan answers the door, well then you should know better than not to run away! But I digress. West's film taps into the satanic panic that gripped certain parts of the states in the 70s and 80s, set in the early 80s the film is a vibrant homage to that era, with a real sense of time and place pulsing away as Samantha is set up for a night of god knows what.

The house is a splendid old creaker and within it Samantha always looks to be one cat's whisker away from being in peril. West doesn't go for continuous boo-jump scares, he lets us and Samantha use our imaginations to unnerve all parties. The screw is slowly turned until hell comes to the party, moving things swiftly to a frenetic finale that closes with a final denouement that old nick himself would approve of.

Dee Wallace Stone does a cameo to add more to the retro flavours, while Noonan and Donahue are superb. It's a film that is patient and asks you for your patience, so those of that ilk, and retro horror hounds too, will love it. Others, not so! 7/10

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