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I’m not usually one to review two horror movies in a row, but this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up as this film was directed by Ti West, who also directed Cabin Fever 2.
House of The Devil is the oft told story of Sam (first timer Jocelin Donahue), a broke girl at Uni who answers a babysitting ad. Needless to say the “parents”, Mr and Mrs Ulman, are not exactly the most normal of couples and there is more than meets the eye to their request especially as there is a lunar eclipse that evening. Sam’s best friend, Megan, is wary of their intentions and decides to be her chaperone.
The interesting thing about this film is that everything about it is from the 80s – the costumes, the script, the directing and as the credits roll at the beginning it becomes clear that West has set out to recreate a classic horror movie from that decade. West wrote, directed and edited HOTD, capturing the essence of the 80s horror genre perfectly and it is evident this is he is passionate about his craft as he puts his heart and soul into making this as accurate as possible. There is a huge gothic house, its eerie owners, the stark warnings to stay away, long shadows, dark corners and a mother no-one would ever wish for.
However, all these do not make it a great movie. If it had been released in the 80s it would have definitely been an instant hit although, like Last House on the Left, would not have stood the test of time. The problem here is that it takes too long to crank up the action with the first hour mostly spent with Sam walking around the creepy house, looking in all the rooms (apart from mother’s, who is “very private”) and trying to get in contact with Megan, gone back to her dorm a couple of hours earlier.
Yet this is also not a bad movie. West has a firm grasp of what is expected, taking the audience on a trip around horror-by-numbers, and the actors give their all treating this as seriously as movies such as Rosemary’s Baby and the original Amityville Horror. The final 15 minutes are the pay-off, even if we’ve seen it all before and even if one member of the audience stood up as the end credits rolled saying “well that was a cliché”. It is not terribly disappointing but today’s savvy audience will expect more from the movie as a whole.
House of The Devil is not an original and certainly won’t set the world alight but West redeems himself from the truly awful Cabin Fever 2, so this is definitely worth a look-in for the genuine jump-in-your-seat moments. Just watch with an open mind and take it for what it is, a hybrid of several scary movies you’ll only ever need to watch once.
House of The Devil will be released by Metrodome at selected cinemas on 19th March and released on DVD on 29th March (£15.99).
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