Director: Ti West
Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen
Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch T.V. DIE!
Samantha Hughes is a young college student looking to find a decent and quiet apartment to rent so she can focus on her studies. She takes on a strange babysitter job for an old fella named Mr. Ulman. When she arrives at Ulman’s old house, she gets a bad feeling. The situation doesn’t get any better when she gets informed that she is not being hired to babysit a child, but rather Mr. Ulman’s sick mother.
Because she is desperate in the need of money, and the fact that the job will pay her an incredible 400 bucks, Samantha agrees to do the job. She tries to make the night go fast by exploring the old house, but it is not about what she will find, but rather what will find her.
With The House of the Devil director Ti West tried to make an “old school” horror film that relies on tension and mood instead of guts and gore. Just like the classics of the genre, this film is built up slowly… but unlike the classics the build up does not deliver here. Instead it feels like the film is slow for the sake of being slow.
It actually takes over 60 minutes before the horror plot really kicks in. While patiently waiting we just get to see this young girl running around being careless and stupid in the big old house. And although there are a few scenes that takes advantage of the fear of being alone in a big house, the wait becomes tedious very quickly.
It would also be easier to be more forgiving if the actual payoff did anything good. There are plenty of ways this film could have went with the third part and I can’t say that I liked the choice they made. Since it comes so late in the film I don’t really wanna go into it, but it switches the film up completely and not in a good way in my opinion.
I had some of the same issues with the other film that Ti West became popular from – The Innkeepers. That movie had more charm to its characters, but it is also a slow burn with a payoff that doesn’t really deliver. Adding in his segments from V/H/S and The ABCs of Death I can’t seem to join the bandwagon of fans that hold West up as one of the most promising filmmakers within this genre.
He does do his best making this film look like it was shot in the early 80’s though. It doesn’t really add anything to the storytelling, but it does keep things a bit interesting at first. Jocelin Donahue, who is in almost every frame of the film as Samantha, looks the part of an 80’s scream queen but her character comes off very stale.
The House of the Devil is a cool title that was sadly misused on this film. It is a film that you will need a lot of patience to sit through and I honestly don’t believe it is worth the time. Go watch a movie about a haunted house or something instead.