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Saturday, February 6, 2010

The House Of The Devil

     Samantha is a college sophomore desperate for her own apartment.  She's looked at a place and wants it terribly, but is strapped for cash.  At the last moment, she takes a rather strange babysitting job that promises to earn her quick cash.  Best friend Megan tries to talk her out of it, but Sam is determined to get this apartment. So she takes the job and a Mr. and Mrs. Ulman are the strange couple who seem to lure Sam out to their isolated mansion on the night of a lunar eclipse for "babysitting".  This sets the stage for one of  the best horror movies of the decade, in my opinion.

     I had been intensely curious about "The House Of The Devil" since last October but for whatever reasons just never saw it.  Well yesterday I just happened to receive a bright red envelope in my mailbox containing said movie.  Excitement ensued. We turned off the lights, popped the DVD in, got comfy, and from the opening credits I knew I loved this movie.  I was immediately lost in the movie and loving every minute of it.  I already see alot of people being turned off by its deliberately slow pace, because there are no quick jump cuts, editing, etc.  It stretches out the tension almost to the unbearable point- proving yet once again how a horror movie should be made.  For those of you with hard-ons for torture porn by the likes of Rob Zombie and Eli Roth, "The House Of The Devil" might not be your cup of tea at all. This is a lesson in suspense, on top of being a welcome throwback to those wonderful horror movies of the 70's and 80's.  The movie brilliantly re-captures the charms of all those early slashers that the "Scream" trilogy satirized ad nauseum- not that I dislike "Scream", actually I loved them during their heyday, but you know what I mean.

      The movie is witty, but there's not a wink to be found anywhere.  That's what was so refreshing about it.  Director Ti West has dusted off some classic horror movie cliches but presents them with the utmost seriousness.  I thought this movie had balls- it doesn't pander to the stereotypical horror audience- you know who you are if you're reading this...  Sadly, alot of horror fans could give two shits about suspense and tension- they just want gore and more gore.  I'm not saying "The House Of the Devil" is on the level of the original "Halloween", but the two are similar in the way the directors cleverly use suspense and tension to scare us instead of just throwing a bunch of red stuff at us.  There is some graphic gore, but surprisingly little for what I was expecting.  It definitely relies more on the suspense.  Like on the edge of your seat.   Jocelin Donahue likably plays Samantha, and Greta Gerwig as best friend Megan steals the show.  And the cameos!  The extremely underrated Dee Wallace plays the landlady who owns the apartment Samantha so desperately wants.  Cult actors Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov (I love her!) chillingly play the couple who hire
Samantha to "babysit".  "The House Of the Devil" definitely shows what true talent can do with virtually no budget.  Supposedly based on actual events- if you remember the wave of Satanic activity in the 80's, which I do, it's not that much of a stretch.  Bottom line- "The House Of the Devil" is a welcome return to the simple, straight-forward movies of the 70's and 80's.   It's not a glossy "re-imagining" or tongue-in-cheek homage.  It's just a simple, straight-forward scary movie.  I couldn't stop thinking about this movie after I watched it, and after the second viewing a few months later, I found that I loved it even more.  Why can't we get more scary movies like this?

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