House of the Devil Carries Quite The Curse

Well, well, well…I just wrapped up a session with the much hyped House of the Devil and so I felt that a Universal Dork review would be just what the Doctor ordered.  Apparently, this lower budget suspense/thriller/horror flick has been doing the rounds in the fall film festivals and getting rave reviews.  Lately, the new horror movies that are tickling the fancies of the festivals have been getting great grades on my score chart (i.e., Paranormal Activity, Trick ‘r Treat), so we will just have to see how this one stacks up!

House of the Devil Poster

Read on for more…

Note:  House of the Devil was just released on VOD (Video on Demand) as of October 1st, and hit only a couple theaters October 31st….so I will avoid any spoilers and just focus on the mood/feel, synopsis, and my overall reactions so I don’t ruin anything for our loyal readers.

The premise of HOTD is pretty straight forward; Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue; The Burrowers) is a college student in the early 80’s that is hurting for some money.  So in a state of desperation, she calls on an ad posted at the campus posting for a last minute babysitting job.  After accepting the job by phone and driving to a house in the country, Samantha finds that Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan; Manhunter, Robocop 2) presents a good offer but the job that is not quite what the ad described…a babysitter.  This all occurs as a series of event work to build the oddity and suspense for the first hour of the film including a much talked about lunar eclipse.  As Samantha explores the house she is watching…go figure, all shit breaks loose.    Despite the dramatic irony woven into the early sequences, there is no slack on the mystery and suspense that keeps your eyes glued to the set.  And how cool is this, House of the Devil even has a cameo appearance by one of the classic horror/sci-fi ladies of the day Dee Wallace (The Howling, E.T., Cujo, Critters)…priceless!

House of the Devil is written and directed by Ti West.  What’s that, never heard of Ti West you say!  That’s completely understandable; I never did either prior to watching this movie and writing this review.  After reviewing his movie contributions, it appears that Ti has been pretty active in movies and this is the fourth to his credit as direct/writer (earlier works included Trigger Man, The Roost, and The Wicked).  Ti is quite the young lad as well, starting directing and writing at 21 and now only 29, his upcoming works include Cabin Fever 2 (2009) and The Haunting in Georgia (2010).

Regardless of age, Ti has his shit together when it comes to putting his vision on the big screen (or my TV for that matter).  As House of the Devil is written to take place in the early 80’s I am just floored at how he just nails not only the setting for the movie…but one would swear this movie was made under budget in the 80’s…even down to musical score and soundtrack, HOTD takes you back to great days of waterfall bangs and one hit wonders.   In addition, as Aint it Cool News put it “House of the Devil is tonally perfect”.   Just try to remember the dirty, disgusted, and disturbed state you found yourself in after watching the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the cinematography and camera are directly inspired from that classic.

House of the Devil

What might take an hour to build to climax; once the ball is rolling the last 30 minutes of the movie had me so riveted that is felt like 5 minutes.  As House of the Devil comes to a close, you might find yourself in a state of bewilderment, shock, and confusion…but I have a feeling this is by design as you now can read into the events to draw a conclusion that is pretty cool.

The bottom-line…House of the Devil is a must see for horror fans.  There are no frills or crazy special effects here, but just a great and simple story that plays out in a way that you would expect to find only in a used VHS section of a pawn shop…digging for horror movies.  This dork was thrilled by it and can’t recommend it enough.

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