Much like The Conjuring, there was nothing particularly ‘original’ or ‘new’ in this film, but it still managed to be a fun watch. The film takes the standard thriller scenario and delivers it with a perfectionist eye – you almost can’t help but enjoy it. A family gathering on their parent’s Anniversary, in their country home, highlights the tensions between the brothers and their wives and girlfriends. The awkward celebration turns into a bloodbath as unseen assailants kill the family members one by one. We soon learn that there are three killers, each wearing a mask of an animal – a fox, a cat and a lamb. We also learn the girlfriend of the middle brother is an ex-survivalist and takes over defending the family she has just met. The family is pinned into the house by an assailant with a crossbow as the other two killers enter the home at different times and pick-off family members. The tension escalates and even though there is a predictable outcome, the film is exciting. If you liked High Tension(without the plot twist ending), The Strangers, or the older film, The Osterman Weekend, you can expect more of the same. For some trivia, it features a small role played by Ti West and another played by 80’s B-Movie Actress Barbara Crampton. Don’t believe the film’s own hype – there is no ’fresh twist’ ’reinvention’ ‘smart’ or anything ‘extremely terrifying’ about the film. However, if you go in not expecting something mind-blowing, it’s a fun thriller with a heroine you’ll want to cheer for and some tense action.
Directed by Adam Wingard Written by Simon Barret
I give it a 3.7 out of 5 on the ‘tense suspense’ scale for thriller action films.
This is a fantastic modern anthology worthy of your attention. Directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and the filmmaking team, Radio Silence, V/H/S delivers five found footage shorts that are on the cutting edge of horror films. In the first few minutes we are introduced to a rowdy bunch of hooligans, nasty characters for which I could not feel any empathy or concern. I thought I was going to hate the film because of this, but luckily it is just the wrap around story. When these hooligans break into a home in order to find some nasty home-porn VHS tape, the real good stuff begins. One culprit sits to view-search the many vhs tapes as the others search the vacant home. Thus we are introduced to the five stories. ‘Amateur Night’ shows how a one-night-stand/bar pick-up can go horribly wrong. Though it seems like a simple and much used theme, it is done quite well and the strange young lady is interesting, to say the least. ‘Second Honeymoon’ has a couple on vacation in the mid-west, in a story that gets creepy as hell and ends with a shocking plot-twist. ‘Tuesday the 17th’ may be the scariest episode, just because of the visual aspect of the killer in the woods attacking a group of campers. ‘The Sick Thing that Happened…’ was perhaps the best story and had some engaging creepiness in the context of video chats between a guy and his girl. We see some strange things running around the woman’s apartment in the dark behind her concerned ’skype-face’. ‘10/31/98’ follows a group of young men breaking into a ‘haunted house’ on Halloween. They discover another group of men, religious fanatics in the attic, doing some kind of cleansing ritual to a young woman. They save the young lady from the witch-hunt, only to discover, maybe they shouldn’t have. I know there is a bit of a back-lash to all the found footage films in release these days, but this one is done with the rawness and intentionally sloppy editing that makes the stories seem genuine.
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.