House of the Devil – (2009) – movie review
House of the Devil is a creepy supernatural thriller that exudes dark atmosphere and suspense. Director, Ti West, writes/directs the film with the feel of 1970’s or early 1980’s films. From the opening title – the film’s title appearing suddenly upon a freeze frame image – to the character development unique to the 1970’s, to it’s occult themes, this film is a successful throwback while displaying originality in concept and story. The film is set in the early 1980’s time period, made evident by payphones, a walkman cassette player, and the automobiles. Two featured songs are dated to early 1980‘s: “One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx (1983) and “They Don’t Write em‘/The Break-up Song” (1981) by the Greg Kihn Band.
Samantha Hughes accepts a babysitting job in the countryside for an eccentric couple. The mansion is eerily quiet when the couple departs and Samantha tries to entertain herself during the lingering hours. The only thing on Television is news coverage of the full lunar eclipse event happening that very night. Samantha does not know that the occurrence is linked to her arrival at the home and she will soon be thrown into the spotlight of a supernatural event by satanic worshippers.
House of the Devil is an anxious slow-burn, building suspense as discrepancies discovered in the home give Samantha substance to her rising suspicions. The film uses the 1970’s style character development, allowing the viewer to get fully engrossed and empathetic to Samantha’s situation. Samantha, (Jocelin Donahue) a likable character that you hope will survive the ultimately evil plot. This was the first film by Ti West I had seen. Because I liked it so much I proceeded to purchase two of his other films, The Innkeeper and The Roost, which I will review at a later date. If you are a fan of 70’s horror, Hammer films, dark atmosphere and occult themes – or – if you’re just tired of explosions, CGI and all action and no substance in modern movies, you will want to check out House of the Devil.
I really wanted to like this but to no avail. Parts of it worked but the whole thing just didn’t do it for me.
I guess part of what I liked was pin-pointing the clues in the house that made me know it wasn’t what it seemed. The eyeglasses were pretty obvious – anyone with vision that bad would have to wear glasses all the time. I picked up early-on that there wasn’t one photo of the family hanging on the walls in any room, and you knew that old couple weren’t playing any pool, the guy could hardly walk, nevermind bend over a pool table. I guess like all 70’s films, it’s all about the last 20 minutes, and I can see that not everybody would like that.
I can see that – finding the clues. I think it was also way too “Rosemary’s Baby” for me. Like it had been done before, more than once.
Now this sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’ll definitely add it to my must see list. Thanks 🙂
We are having a rare blue-moon tonight on the east-coast and backyard astronomers are setting up telescopes everywhere. I can’t help but think of this film.
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