Wednesday, July 28, 2010

House of the Devil

House of the Devil 2009
Director: Ti West
Writer: Ti West
Starring Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace and Heather Robb

The 80s were a golden age for classic horror films and Ti West does his best to recreate that feeling with House of the Devil. This is a film that reminds me of the 1987 film Spellbinder along with the classic 70’s film The Devil’s Rain. West did a perfect job hatching this story in the early 80’s as it would not have worked as well in the modern day with cell phones and the internet. The lead actress would have had an easy way out if she had those options. But setting it in the 80s, where you still have to rely on rotary phones was a brilliant conceit on his part. You really feel the apprehension and fear that the lead is subjected through. The film does have a slow build up, but it is well worth the wait. It has a rousing climax that puts it up there with other classic horror films of the era. This is a film that works best if you are in a certain frame of mind and especially if you grew up with films like Children of the Corn and Poltergeist.
The plot basics are this, it is the year 1983 and Samantha (Donahue) is a college student who needs some quick money so she can move into a new apartment. She answers a advertisement for a babysitter. She has her best friend (Gerwig) drive her to the location and it seems to be an eerie and ominous house far away from any neighbors or civilization. She has reservations about taking the job after meeting the people and finding out what the job entails. But they offer her more money than she expects and she acquiesces. It seems that she is hired to watch the owners of the house’s frail mother. But weird and strange things begin to happen and she starts fearing for her life and tries to get away. Though it seems the owners (Noonan and Woronov) have malevolent plans in store for Samantha.
This is a exceptionally well done film. West’s direction really feels like a lost 80’s film and the tone carries you throughout the entire story. The way he shoots the film has that grainy 80’s video feel to it and it really works. The script is minimal at best and that really works in the films favor. It keeps the film taut and suspenseful until the obligatory horror film twist ending. The cast is great. Donahue as Samantha is a great lead and you really side with her and want her to prevail. Noonan and Woronov are great foils and you feel that they are up to no good immediately. Gerwig as Megan is a delight to watch and really hilarious, I would have liked to seen more of her in the film. The brief bit with Wallace is quite good too. The SFX and effects in the film are very well done. I especially liked the look of the demon. The score and music brought a real 80’s feel to the film and really cemented the traditional feel of the film. This is a hidden gem and a real treat for true horror fans, definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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