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…
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…
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?
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,…
“The House of the Devil” is a meticulous homage to 1970s horror films, expertly blending the haunted house and satanic cult sub-genres. Director Ti West’s film is a slow burn punctuated by bursts of violence. While I found this approach to be very effective, viewers will either be enthralled or bored to tears. With spot-on casting and a great soundtrack featuring The Fixx, Thomas Dolby, and The Greg Kihn Band, “The House of the Devil” is easy to recommend.
Now this is a horror film.
Very good at keeping it casual and building the atmosphere with brief glimpses of what's to come. The lead reminded me of a younger, even prettier Brooke Adams which reinforced the late 70's/early 80's vibe it clearly is harking back to - and she more than carried the film.
The final act is where it all kicks off and is perfectly executed, finding an aesthetic somewhere between the classic horrors of that time period with a tinge of B-movie self-awareness. I was entirely charmed by everything it had to offer, including a memorable cameo from Greta Gerwig.
Brilliant piano and string-laden score that keeps you engaged and intrigued. Can't believe I waited this long to watch it! Will definitely check out The Innkeepers soon.
It doesn't happen anything right until the end, and then the movie ends. Awful.
Stop #27 for Hoop-Tober
Most reviews here on letterboxd that have problems with the film take issue with pacing of the film, that its slow and arduous for far too long. I think I partially disagree with that as there is plenty of setups and goings ons in the beginning of the film to satisfy, the way the film recaptures without repackaging the 80's aesthetic (freeze frame titles card and all) is superb which seems to highlight the problematic lull which is the middle section of the film.
There is some intrigue in the middle section which works, such as exploration of the house and the phone calls to no-one, but why more time was not spent doing something with…
Ho-lee shit. How was this made by the same person who did "The Inkeepers"? This was genuinely creepy and looked fantastic. The whole "late 70s/early 80s" horror movie feel/look, the credits in the same style. The great big question mark ending.
There's a few honest scares in it. It's more suspense than flat-out horror, and it works. Other people have described it as a "slow burn" and it is. It's also completely worth the wait.
Also, I'd completely forgotten about "One of our Submarines" by Thomas Dolby. That shows up in the soundtrack.
Very very slow burner of a movie. Extremely well done and mimics the low budget slasher films of the the 80s. Does well with building believable tension.
"The House of Devil" is all mounting tension and build up to a horrifying climax.
An early 1980's setting provides just the right amount of quirk. All the independent spirit of Carpenter's Halloween with a pinch of Rosemary's Baby.
Seriously had to double check to see what year this movie was created. Great job creating the ominous 80s atmosphere.
Being a pretty unashamed fan of 1980's horror cinema, I have been meaning to catch up with this one for a while and after seeing Ti West's *The Innkeepers* and enjoying it a lot, especially the cultured direction, I thought it was a good time to have a look at West's earlier work too. I'm so glad I did because this is a film that manages to replicate the trashy charm of the 80's then use it to a slick advantage, setting itself in an era without mobile phones and purposefully shooting it with seemingly severe limitations. As the babysitter slowly gets drawn into the deadly grips of an occult family, the throwbacks range from the obvious (the soundtrack, the…
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