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Thursday, February 25, 2010

House Of The Devil Review

Here is the synopsis of the film: From writer/director Ti West comes perhaps the most intense shocker of the year. Desperate for cash, college sophomore Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job in the isolated mansion of the creepy Ulman family. Ignoring the warnings from her best friend, Samantha has no idea that a nightmare of unspeakable fear and torment awaits her within these walls. At midnight, in the shadow of a full lunar eclipse, the ultimate evil will be unleashed.

We are introduced to the film telling us that these events are based on true events. The first thing I notice besides the graininess of the 16mm film this movie was shot on is the awesome 80's title intro and music. Ti West went above and beyond to make this a period piece. If I had not been watching this on an all in one computer, I would swear I was in grindhouse theater in 1982. The story itself is about Samantha(Jocelin Donahue)who is trying to make it on her own. She rents a beautiful old house but needs some extra cash to afford it. Samantha finds a flyer stating that a babysitter is needed and calls the number but has to leave a message. As she turns to walk away, the pay phone starts ringing. This may not strike anyone as odd in these days of caller id, but this movie is set in the 80's and that didn't exist. She answers the phone and finds out it was the man she left the message for. She inquires how he got the number but does not get an answer. They agree that he will meet her at the college she attends in front of
the student services building. She sits in front of the building, listening to her walkman, waiting for Mr. Ulman to appear. He never shows up and she leaves, meeting up with her friend Megan(Greta Gerwig)at a local pizza joint. When she gets home, there is a message waiting for her from Mr. Ulman wanting her to call him. Samantha calls and he apologizes, offering her
double the money if she will still take the job. Desperately needing the money, she gives in. While Megan is driving her to the house we hear on the radio that a lunar eclipse is happening that night. Creepy guys and total lunar eclipses are never a good sign for anyone. Samantha and Megan arrive at the house, noting how nice yet eerie it is. They knock on the
door and are startled by a large man. It is Tom Noonan, Frankenstein from The Monster Squad!! Megan wants to stay with Samantha but is told she cannot. Samantha is told she is not watching a child like she thought, but is instead watching Mrs. Ulman's elderly mother. Samantha finds this odd but decides to stay after Mr. Ulman offers to pay her $400.00. What she thought was going to be an easy night of making quick money turns into a living hell. The movie builds to a superb ending that leaves you wandering what happens next. The movie does not rely on gore or cheap tricks, instead using tension and slow build up's for the scares. What a breath of fresh air after all the "Summer Blockbuster" horror fests coming from Hollywood. They all need to take a cue from Ti West and bring horror back to it's simpler,
more gratifying times. It has wonderful acting delivered by such genre icons as Tom Noonan, Dee Wallace, and Mary Woronov. The cast is small, making the settings very individual and you are left feeling lonely and dreadful while watching. If you can, you should really watch the VHS version of the film. When you watch it on DVD, the hi-res really takes away from the ambiance. I give this film an 8/10 and would say any horror child from the 80's must watch it.