The House of the Devil ★★★★

Horror Movie Homework Assigned by @IAmMikeWhite - 4/20

The first thing that struck me about The House of the Devil was how much it felt like an 80s horror movie. I was aware that it was set in the 80s and assumed it would have some throwback nostalgia in it. However, I wasn't prepared for just how steeped in the 80s aesthetic the movie was. Every aspect of the film from performances, camera angles and movement, sound design, the color grading of the film, all of it screams "80s filmmaking". This makes The House of the Devil feel really nostalgic while also contributing to the tension.

Ti West has this innate ability to present an otherwise mundane situation (such as a girl roaming a house dancing to 80s music) and transform it into wildly effective tension building. The House of the Devil thrives on seducing the audience into a sense of impending doom through a series of monotonous, not scary sequences. That may sound like a back-handed compliment (or even an outright criticism), but the beauty in Ti West's style is that through monotony, true tension is born.

The House of the Devil is intense because the terror to come is slowly brought out. The tension works because you watch Samantha wandering through the house with no idea what's behind certain doors. And the movie pays off this tension incredibly well with a climax that doesn't hold back. The end of the movie is violent, bloody, and very unsettling. Made even more so by the spectacular tension that builds up throughout the movie's much dryer previous hour and change.

I could see The House of the Devil being alienating for some people. Though, I believe it is well-regarded within the horror community. Nevertheless, as someone who has drifted away from the horror genre, I love that there are filmmakers like Ti West who can effectively pull me back in.