Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
The House of the Devil
Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch TV. Die.
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.
Part of Hoop-Tober
“This one night changes everything for me.”
In the foyer, near the base of the grand staircase, sits a harpsichord.
Not a piano. Not even an organ. A harpsichord.
The house is already impressively creepy. So expansive yet so enclosed, so dark. Stairwells and passageways and so many rooms, all suitable for sneaking and hiding and misdirection. Everything about it is subtly unnerving—a grandparents’ home full of ugly wallpaper and linoleum and bric-a-brac, but with a sense that the grandson might be Damien. It’s reminiscent of the Victorian Bates manse in Psycho, itself inspired Edward Hopper’s The House by the Railroad. It is less a house than an imposition on good mental health. But it’s just a…
Part of Lise and Jonnie’s Horror-o-thon 2014
Well that was a great kick-off to this year’s Horror-o-thon! Not knowing anything going in, I was convinced by the opening scenes that this was a late 70’s / early 80’s haunted house horrorer; that is until the very late 70’s / early 80’s opening credits rolled … oooh, it has Mary Waronov! Wait, what? How old is Gretta Gerwig?
Ti West’s House of the Devil is neither homage nor send-up, it’s something completely sincere. While I’m the farthest thing from a horror genre aficionado, I’ve had enough exposure to the classics from that era to see that this rings true. It reminded me of a small Spanish/Danish comedy from 2003, Torremolino '73…
A person's vision is best portrayed the fewer the hands involved. I think that is what has worked best for Ti West's House of the Devil and in bringing it to life so successfully. Not only writing and directing, the fact he edited the film as well really kept his vision true and in tact.
The tone and pacing, while slow to build is used perfectly, adding an eerie and unsettling calm which eventually snowballs into intense and terrifying chaos.
Aside from Ti West's writing, directing, editing, cinematography, POV shots and all the technical aspects, his attention to detail was out of this world. There have been plenty of fantastic period-piece horror films but to have a throw back film,…
I love second viewings of films so much.
I have had discussions with the occasional person who flat out refuses to revisit films, saying they could never sit through something again when they already know what happens, and I am the guy on the polar opposite end of the spectrum in this regard. Not only can I watch the same work again and again as long as it tickles my entertainment bone (no, not that, get your mind out of the gutter pervert), but I actually typically prefer the second go round over the first.
When I first screen a film, I want to maintain a tight focus on the plot and do my best to follow the story beats…
Ti West's direction + spooky and grainy cinematography + methodical and slowly tightening tension + fantastic performances by Jocelin Donahue and Tom Noonan + brilliant references to the 1980s and satanic chillers + one of the greatest climaxes of all time + an eventual release of primal rage and desolation + a slightly-empty house = one of the finest horror films to be released in the 21st century.
Mrs Ulman, are you okay?
Steeped in artifice and flimsy storytelling, Ti West's "The House of the Devil" seems to have caught the eye of horror fans hungry for a throwback to the heady and feather-haired days of 1980s thrillers. To be sure, the film is such a throwback as its design, pace, and sets all revel in the sensibilities of that past decade. Strip those touches away, however, and the film rates only as a run-of-the-mill horror film, relying too much on generating atmosphere and too little on building a satisfying narrative.
Taking place in an era wear the Fixx could be listened to on foam-padded Walkman headphones, the film revolves around Jocelin Donahue's Samantha, a college co-ed in need of a job. Finding…
Director Ti West’s gritty horror comes completely out of nowhere but leaves a lasting impression. You’re not sure just what to expect, but the way to get there is both nostalgic and nerve wracking. And once you get there, there is no turning back. Once you enter The House of the Devil, there isn’t a way out.
Although The House of the Devil was made in 2009, it was purposefully created to look like an old 70s movie, and done so very well. Not just the sets and costumes and styling and music, but the actual way the movie was shot with intense zooms, old grainy film stock and yellow opening credits help achieve this. It has the feel of…
"The House of the Devil" completely relies on its artistic appeal to make up for the lacking story. That being said, the director, Ti West, did a fantastic job visually evoking the seventies - had I not been aware of the actors in this film and the release date, I could have honestly assumed that this was a 70s film miraculously recorded in HD. However, the artistic value of "The House of the Devil" isn't enough to justify the dragging pace, stale characters and terrible story.
I have only seen this film once but the more I think about it the more I feel that this can easily make a top horror movie list. This is not do to the story (I am actually tired of the whole cult type idea) but the way this was shot as a nod to 80's horror, the details, the set-up, the acting, the creepy house, the suspense, etc where all done exceptionally well.
The house never catches on fire!
But still a pretty fun horror film.
I haven't loved a horror this much since you're next
Oh hell yes. This movie is essentially an 80's tone poem. It just wanted me to remember a time before cell phones and the internet and how that itself lends a level of unease and terror to even the mundane. And this movie is full of the mundane. It just keeps slowly building a sense of dread, with each act being punctuated with a brief scene of horror until we reach the finale. And although the finale is exactly what you expect, without any twists or turns, it's such an excellent release of tension and fulfillment of its premise that you can't help but enjoy it despite its cheesiness and predictability. This movie is full of great camera work, sound editing, music, and tense sequences that will keep me coming back to this one through the years. It just hit on a thing that always seems to work for me - the 80's.
This atmospheric homage starts strong but flounders as Ti West misses the mark with his pacing. Slow-burns can't be left to extinguish completely, and if they are the way to re-light them is not to shoehorn in a balls-to-the-wall final act. Consistent and effective aesthetic needs ideally to be married to compelling narrative, something which just doesn't happen here.
A perfectly shot retro horror film with effective slow building terror and a crazy end.
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
- Donnie Darko
- Morvern Callar
- Irma Vep
- Miami Blues
- Babe: Pig in the City
For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
- 13 Sins
- 100 Bloody Acres
- The ABCs of Death
Friends often ask me to recommend indie horror films on Netflix Instant. (American Netflix, sorry!) Now I can just send…