The House of the Devil (2009): 8.25/10


– The House of the Devil sees the style that Ti West began developing through his first films and takes it to a whole new level. This is both because he was starting to work with bigger budgets thanks to his work on Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, but also because he had the experience from 4 films that he could now perfect skills that he was working on with his previous films. The result is a very nostalgic movie in terms of story and in terms of style. It combines elements of both slasher films as well as haunted house films, and it harkens back to the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. It pay homage to the horror films of the 1970s and the 1980s not only in terms of plot, but also by recreating the style of those films by similar techniques and technology as to what was used back then. It even starts off with opening text claiming that the movie is based on true events, as if the viewer is about the start watching The Amityville Horror or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Other signifiers that help demonstrate this is supposed to be an 1980s time period is the images of hairstyles, cars, Sony Walkman’s, and the soundtrack of songs all from the early 1980s. In terms of plot, it is a very simple and common plot, which helps the nostalgia even more. It feels similar and it feels likely, which helps build the mystery and suspense throughout the film. It has a very slow buildup, and things do not start happening until the third act of the film. The story follows Samantha Hughes (played by Jocelin Donahue), who takes on a babysitting job for Mr. and Mrs. Ulman so that she can pay for a deposit on her new apartment. After standing Samantha up, Mr. Ulman apologizes and offers to double the original salary. Samantha gets a ride to the remote house from her best friend Megan. Upon arrival, Mr. Ulman admits that he does not have any children, and that the job is for his ailing mother-in-law. Samantha is hesitant, but finally agrees after he tells her that he will pay her $400 for the night. This is when the suspense begins. The majority of the movie takes place with Samantha virtually alone in the house, as she never really goes to check on the old woman. When Samantha starts to hear noises around the house, we do not know if we’re watching a haunted house movie or a home invasion movie, which makes it interesting as you are not sure if the ending is going to be more like The Changeling or When A Stranger Calls. The ending is an excellent surprise, and really feels back to the revealing moments at the end of classics such as Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen. Now just because I am comparing it to all these great films does not mean it is as perfect as those ones. It definitely has its faults, mostly in the acting and the characters that were not developed enough. However, it is an excellent recent horror movie film in a sea of weak horror films and it shows great promise. It demonstrates his creativity and his willingness to try new things.