The House of the Devil Review
“Easily, One-of-the-best Horror Movies Of The Decade.”
June 1st, 2011
I can't quite recall when I first heard about this movie -- It was one of those movies you see randomly while looking at "coming soon" movie sections, movie lists, etc. While recently trying to find a "good" and "actually scary" horror movie, I stumbled upon this. It got decent reviews and I see critics overall loved it(Check RT), I became interested, and I have Netflix instant stream to thank for making it all-the-more easier. I covered the windows in my living room(thus making it dark) and watched it alone. I was in for something crazier than I had initially imagined.
Story/Plot: Samantha(played by Jocelin Donahue) tries to get her own place, and under-pressure, winds up desperately taking a job offer as a babysitter. After the man who placed the ad calls her and appoints a meeting, and fails to come, Samantha tries to forget about it and move on -- Only later to be called by the same guy, apologizing on his behalf and stating that he was busy and had someone else call for the offer, only to be turned down.
She has her best-friend, Megan(played by Greta Gerwig) drive her down to a house that's not anywhere close to her campus, and insist that she will come along -- We are amused by a conversation taking place during the drive that confirms why she got the job. Upon arrival, Samantha and Megan are greeted by an odd, but well-mannered man. Samantha is confronted by Mr. Ulman(Tom Noonan) who he ask to talk alone, saying he can only pay for one-persons' time. Samantha understands and tells him that she only came to drive her there and back.
Samantha then find out that there isn't any longer a child in the picture. Mr. Ulman only said that to derive from the fact that it's really his mother that needs looking after. While at first reluctant in taking the offer, Mr. Ulman offers $300(twice as much, if I'm correct, than he previously offered). Samantha agrees on $400, acknowledging that she'll only be there for a couple of hours.
Megan, on-the-other-hand, leaves because she doesn't feel right about it, stating that it's "too good to be true", Samantha insist that she can not turn this offer down -- Megan leaves angrily and saddened, still bent on picking her up when the time comes. Samantha later meets Mrs. Ulman, who is even more odd than Mr. Ulman. The two wind up leaving, and things get crazy and shocking from that point-on.
I can't go any further detail, simply because I reach spoiler-territory.
Ti West does some clever things for the plot. It manages to stand-out on it's own while bringing a ****c scenario in the mix. 9/10
Acting: Truly remarkable. Jocelin Donahue portrays Samantha in such a great manner -- Making her a charming, down-on-her-luck type of girl. I've never seen a film featuring Jocelin Donahue, and I think she was perfect for the role. Greta Garwig does the most with the screen-time she gets -- Mary Woronov and Tom Noonan also do an exceptional job. They seem to be naturally creepy while keeping their well-mannered approach intact. I think that AJ Bowen as the son was ok -- His acting was believable until further down the road, where it kinda felt forced and kinda cheesy. Overall, some great-acting all-around. 8.8/10(I wanted to get this higher because of Jocelin Donahue, but, the acting just feels kinda cheesy/corny from the other cast-mates, maybe it's because
of their characters', I don't know).
Cinematography/CGI: I thought it was a believable setting. Nothing special to set your eyes on, but a great environment for an '80's horror movie setting. 8/10
Direction: I really, really loved it. Ti West gets some brilliant shots on this one, and every-angle is well done. 9/10
Editing/Sound: The music, along with the editing, made this a creepy movie. The '80's setting and vibe it gives is impressive. Ti West knew when to add a scary-feel with music, and a '80's feel with some of the credits and music also. Amazing soundtrack and editing all-around -- Possibly perfect. 9.9/10
Effectiveness: This movie effected me. The loud, abrupt music in one scene was all that I could handle, and the "first" abrupt, shocking scene was a jaw-dropping moment for me. Ti West doesn't include any blood on the first-act, the second-act with the "jaw-dropping" scene is the first-scene that includes blood, and the third-act is insane and chaotic -- Leaving me mesmerized when I walked out of the room. I heard the movie wasn't gory and it's rated R for: some bloody violence, which, in my opinion, doesn't get across how bloody the third-act is. You literally get a close-up shot of someone that doesn't have a face and it's really bloody and almost grotesque. Not only that, but, the movie gives you some food for thought at the end. Overall, effective movie. 9/10
Accurance: There are some obvious flaws with this one. I noticed one clearly and IMDb.com will point out some other obvious ones. 5.9/10
Entertainment: This is where certain people tend to complain. The first-act introduces the main-character, the second-act shows her basically wondering and roaming the house aimlessly, and the third-act goes balls-out. I still really enjoyed the pacing and thought it was refreshing and entertaining. 9/10
Worth-Factor. If you wanna see a film that isn't your average-horror film, this is the one for you. There's no sex/nudity, there's some language, nothing strong, and not really any guts. The film plays off innocent only to make the scenes with satanic-themes and bloody violence all-the-more shocking. If you love "different" and "thoughtful" horror-films, give this one a try. 9/10
Other Redeeming qualities: The cast, script, and atmosphere of the '80's is awesome -- They do a great job picking out '80's hair****, clothing, etc. But, there are also some faults. The scenes near the ending isn't really believable, but, it may be because it was "all apart of the plan". and like I stated earlier, there are goofs in this film. At least you get a "different" horror-film that knows what it's doing. 7.9/10
Conclusion: I really enjoyed this movie. The acting was great, the direction and editing/soundtrack was brilliant, and the '80's setting was a nice addition. Ti West made some other films that, not only look uninteresting, but failed to receive the feedback that this one proudly received. I walked away from this film wanting more, and hoping for sequel or prequel. This one out-beat 'The Crazies' for me, and I really liked that one. While many will probably hate this for the pacing, third-act, and questionable-plot scenarios', this is a hidden gem, waiting to be found.
My Score: 8.5/10