The House of the Devil (2009)
written and directed by Ti West
There’s a lot to like in The House of the Devil, Ti West’s homage to the horror films of the ’70s and ’80s. It was shot on grainy 16mm, uses zooms to heighten tension, and has a slow and moody pace, as a young college student named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) signs up for a babysitting job that brings her face to face with a group of devil-worshipping wackos. Also on hand is an atmospheric country home that recalls other “evil house” movies such as Burnt Offerings (1976).
But then Samantha starts to do idiotic things, as people in these films often do. She walks upstairs instead of staying put downstairs. She opens doors, peeks in bathroom tubs, and finds strange photographs. She dances around the eerie mansion, eyes closed, to the beat of The Fixx’s One Thing Leads to Another (1983). Good song. But once she gets picked to be Satan’s bride, you can’t help but feel she kind of deserves it. Plus who in their right mind accepts to babysit for Tom Noonan? The guy was The Tooth Fairy in Manhunter (1986), for Chrissakes.
Still, The House of the Devil is precisely the type of movie I’d like to make someday: A slow and stylish low-budget shocker that knows how to build suspense from the ground up. Maybe I need to sell my soul?
Carlos I. Cuevas