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…
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…
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?
Wicked 70's style horror film, great suspense building to the ultimate creepy climax. Loved this movie.
Ti West's slow build-ups are perfect.
Starring an intimate ensemble of character players and Mumblequeens, Ti West's hyper-nostalgic 16mm haunted house slasher truly, efficiently molts the garish and grisly banalities of modern horror to craft a cleverly suspenseful, slow-burning reversion to the fright flicks of the '70s and '80s. It's a rare treat for movie fans discerning enough to see the era being portrayed in its technique. And it never hurts for a movie to take place in the '80s so that one can enjoy the sight of college girls with tight jeans up to their navels for 90 minutes.
The first feature that I saw from up-and-coming director Ti West was "Cabin Fever 2", an unimaginative direct-to-video sequel that could have been directed by anyone with no experience behind the camera. And even though the finished product is flawed, West has grown into a filmmaker with great potential with his follow-up, called "The House of the Devil".
The first thing that grabs you about the film, and really the best thing about it, is the retro feel. West clearly has a love of horror films from the 1970's, and he has gone to great lengths to painstakingly recreate that with this picture. From the noticeable touches, like the opening credits, to the more subtle ones like the lack of…
My favorite horror film of the 2000s.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Excellent slowburner. Good nod to 70s/80s slashers with editing/credits/overall atmosphere. Always a delight to see Noonan as well.
I really liked this. I think maybe the retro feel might have rubbed me the wrong way at some other point in time but I found myself absorbed immediately.
The best kind of horror-mystery is one in which you don’t trust anything you’re shown. House of the Devil does this with its slow burn of tension and its astute paranoia. It also looks great, being a movie set in the early 80s and looking like it was made then as well. Unfortunately once the climax kicks in, the thrills let off and it becomes kinda generic.
- 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…