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Movie Review: The House Of The Devil

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years and 4 months ago

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Written Nov. 1, 2009

Ahh… I’m not too sure about this one. It wasn’t bad, but… you know what? If I had to sum up this film with a few words I think this is how it would wind up going… it’s a very SLOW, yet interestingly enough paced film which caters to those who thrive on build-up and find themselves thrown off by an intense off-the-wall ending. Just the film’s log-line alone hints at a paced out delivery before an unraveling of horrific events.

“Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch Tv. Die.”

Sam (Jocelyn Donohue) is a pretty college sophomore, so desperate to earn some cash for a deposit on an apartment that she accepts a babysitting job even after she finds out there is no baby. Mr. and Mrs. Ulman (Tom Noonan / Mary Woronov) are the older couple who lure Sam out to their creeky Victorian mansion deep in the woods, just in time for a total lunar eclipse. Megan (Greta Gerwig) is Sam's best friend, who gives her a ride out to the house, and reluctantly leaves her there despite suspecting that something about the situation isn’t right. Victor at first seems like just a creepy guy lurking around the house, but quickly makes it clear that Sam will end this night in a bloody fight for her life....

The House of the Devil has to be one the most unique indie-horror flicks I’ve ever seen in my life. Aspects of this film worked for me and others didn’t. Truth be told I exited the theater trying to dig deep within myself and find feeling for this film, but to be honest I can’t. It’s happened before with other films, but this one has that feeling of nothing. By that I mean I didn’t like it, but I didn’t dislike it. The ‘80s grainy approach on slasher films was presented in such an artistic way I must say I felt as if I were still a kid and watching all those low-budget cable TV types of horror flicks that had quick build up and gore one scene after the next until the very end. And because it lacked it, I guess the bizarre dark-hearted part of me couldn’t really stand to enjoy it until the last 20 minutes of the film which unleashes one of the creepiest of satanic worship scenes I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean from pentagrams, to really strange and scary looking people, scenery which oozed total loss of any kind of personal control all through the obvious blood and violence. That worked, kept me engaged and added some old-school style pizzazz to the film…

However; on the flip-side of it, I too enjoy character build-up… especially when well crafted, paced and gradually introduced, but the pacing and build-up was so slow I think wet paint actually dries up faster. I’m not really one with much patience as I’m a cut-to-the-chase type, and by no means am I saying I wished it had been rushed as it would have hurt the film, but Jesus Fucking Christ, any longer and I was seriously considering walking out. It had nothing to do with talent as I truly believe all the actors were pretty well prepped for their roles and really knew them to the core and how to deliver their emotions, but there were moments where it felt as if the plot had suddenly disappeared. I mean it was there and as someone viewing it did find interest with what would follow up, but I think there was much that could have been done away with in the editing room. That’s a bit far fetched as I have no control over that, but contrary to my bitching, something about this film has an “it factor” that kept my ass on that seat. No matter how I flip this film’s coin it’s a no win or loss situation. I guess to an extent that’s the genius in Ti West’s (director) mind as he’s presented a non-partisan film that I guess pays homage to not only ‘80s versions of fright flicks, but massive build up and intensity once climax has been reached.

I’m going to end this review by saying the following… I really don’t know what you might be into, but I will say this. If you’re the type that thrives on the mainstream types of flicks, forget it. I can totally see that type of movie-goer being turned off by it. On the contrary, if you’re the type that embraces the art of film from all aspects, you’ll enjoy it.



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