Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The House of the Devil (2009)

Director: Ti West

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Dee Wallace

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch T.V. DIE!

Plot: In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Hell, yeah!

#14 of 31 Days of Horror 2010.

There was a lot of nerd buzz surrounding this movie last year. It was touted as an 80s-style horror movie. I'm not completely on board with that. It had 80s-style credits, it took place in the 80s and it sort of had that vibe but there's no denying that it was made recently (ahem, the ending). It's a little too good to be an 80s horror without being a slasher. If you bore easily you should avoid this one because once Samantha's in the spooky old house alone, not much happens for about a half hour or so...and I loved it because you need that 'eye of the hurricane' before the shit storm really happens.


I would have preferred the movie to end with the ritual carried out rather than have Sam escape and disable the baddies one by one. The 'survival girl' mentality gets old these days. While I appreciated her attempted suicide and then hospital 'surprise', I really could have done without her escape. That seemed like the only cop out. Again, I really dug the final moment and spoken line of the picture but it would have been nice if she hadn't escaped. I'd like to think that the final shock moment could have been added at the end of the ritual.

There isn't enough praise I can give for Ti West for not having any loud sound or music cue when Megan is handed the lighter in the car. Anyone else would have destroyed that scare with something incredibly loud to make you jump. Instead my friend and I jumped twice as much and that there was no music to help out only elevated the scare. I'm impressed...and then there's her abrupt end. Nice!!! I did not see that coming.


I can't polish this off without mentioned the fantastic score by Jeff Grace. It's one of the most impressive horror scores I've heard in more than twenty years. It's a real, thought-out score and not some drone tones with synth clashes and bullshit that you usually get (which can be good, mind you). This guy's good and I'll be keeping an eye on his career. For me it was definitely instrumental in elevating the fright factor. THotD is a fine example in how to make an effective horror flick without relying on jump scares, gore and nudity. It probably seems contradictory to what I usually dig with these types of movies (except for the jump scares - they're poorly executed 95% of the time) but this one is better than most and it doesn't need any of those things to entice you to like it. I can appreciate that. THotD is quite different in that way.

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