FILM: House Of The Devil
Directed By: Ti West
Starring: Joecelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig
Running Time: 95 Minutes
A Short Review By Sub-Editor Ross Hughes
HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
Imagine coming across a second hand shop that is closing down and is selling old VHS horror films for 5 for a £1. All the classics are there, well known films that you probably have not seen for years, and then you come across this! Made in the 70’s, its a film that has quotes a plenty on the cover. “A classic!” “70’s horror as never been better”. You hold the video and wonder to yourself, how can you not remember this film? If it is so good, they how can come you have never seen it?
The fact is you haven’t. Another fact is despite the tatty cover this is not a film released in the golden age of horror. In fact, House of the Devil was made in 2009 with its sole intention to remind horror fans of what horror films were really like in the old days, and the fact it works so brilliantly for most of its running time, is a credit to director Ti West.
Any fans sick of the way horror as gone all torture, endless sequels to films that were not that good to start with and of course pointless re-makes can rejoice. This is such a glorious blast from the past that it shines out like a light in an age where gore counts for more that actual plot. Everything from the design, music, even picture quality is all made to have that 70’s vibe, you only have to look at the opening credits, with its freeze frame and big yellow titles to realise that you are heading for a nostalgia trip that you will totally love.
Cults were a big thing for horror films all those years ago, and this harks back to those days with Colleague student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) struggling to make ends meet and agreeing to take a babysitters job in the middle of nowhere. On arrival she is met by the owner of the house, an elderly man Mr Ulman ( a Phantasm undertaker lookalike Tom Noonan) who tells her that the person she is looking after is not a child but his elderly mother. At first put off by this unexpected turn, she is swayed by the offering of a huge amount of money that will go some way in helping her with a deposit for a flat!
She agrees and is left alone in the vast house and…………….well anymore will spoil the film. You really need to go in with less knowledge and you be surprised. Modern fans will dismiss this as a load of rubbish, no doubt the slow burning running time most probably will bring boredom to their horror senses which are brought up with cheap thrills and need for shock.
This is not a film for the Hostel and Saw crowd. Fans of such 70’s classics like Rosemary’s Baby will find so much to love. Nothing happens until the last twenty minutes but the reward by sticking with it is fantastic. The beauty of it all is that its played so straight, a determination by West not to go down the Scream route. And fair play to West who has been critically mauled for his Cabin Fever sequel (I have seen it, yet to review) and as actually apologised for that mess! Here he redeems himself and shows great promise for the future, the man clearly knowing the tricks of great horrors of the past. His greatest trick is making the easy situations scary. Why witness endless scenes of torture when just ordering a Pizza can bring the chills required!
Not only is this 2010‘s best horror but a strong contender to up there when the decade is out, only a rushed finale stops it from being a classic, a film that probably required an extra twenty minutes to balance the slow burn and scares, but apart from that, this is a wonderful hark back to the days when horror was cool, and the fact that this is being released on VHS first says all you need to know, at not just the intentions of the makers, but how those intentions have worked so brilliantly.
OVERALL: A stunning blast from the past only let down by a rushed climax, this is pure 70’s horror that is a joy from start to end. For old fans that miss this style….its a must watch!!
[pt-filmtitle]House of the Devil[/pt-filmtitle]