33: The House of the Devil

The House of the Devil – October 30, 2009
Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen
Written and directed by: Ti Wells

The 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.” – IMDB

My thoughts: The House of the Devil was most definitely an enjoyable flick – definitely the right choice for a beautiful Saturday afternoon (at least for me, though some might not feel the same way.) A few years back, I watched a movie called Babysitter Wanted and it was a similar plot but it just didn’t deliver. So, I decided to take a shot and see if this one did. (The answer is “yes”.)

The reason that it works so well is that it’s shot in a classic 1970s/80s horror film style. It was shot on 16MM which was popular back then. The fashion is spot-on perfect for the time it’s set in. Even the opening credits (which are in a yellow font and pop up over freeze-frames of the lead actress walking around listening to music) are perfect. So for me, that totally set the tone and got me excited.

A lot of people will complain that it’s too slow and nothing happens for three-fourths of the movie. And for the most part, that’s true. But then again, that’s the point. It builds tension and slowly makes you feel more and more scared, much like the main character feels. At first, it’s all hunky-dory and she’s bopping around listening to her Walkman, but slowly, things start getting weird. So, if you need a movie that jumps right into it and doesn’t mess around, you might not enjoy this one.

Samantha, the main character, was actually likable, to the point where I was rooting for her to make it. She didn’t spend a bunch of time doing stupid shit nor did she seem like someone who somehow “deserved” to be in a situation like that. She was just a normal girl who needed money. She made smart moves and actually fought back (on her own, without help even!)

The one qualm I have is that we have seen this movie a lot of times. Albeit, this one is done in a stylistically more interesting way, but it’s still a recycled plot. More than anything, it’s more of an homage than it is a truly original take on a horror movie. Plus, the ending “twist” made me roll my eyes a little (I’ll give you a spoilery hint, it’s a little bit Rosemary’s Baby.)

If you’re a film buff – be it horror or any other genre – it’s a fun movie to watch. The interpretation of late 70s/early 80s film style is cool to see, but on top of that, it’s an enjoyable horror movie. It’s a nice blend of suspense and mystery, with just a bit of blood and creep factor.

Stars: 4/5

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