The House of the Devil (2009)


I was recommended this film by Eric and Gary – sorry I took an age to review it. I watched Afflicted the same night and ended up reviewing that first (here) and it’s not that I preferred it, but in all honesty I found it easier to review. So weeks went by and I ate lots of potatoes and now here I sit in my blue chair, writing up The House of the Devil. Which I did really enjoy!

the-house-of-the-devil-original

“During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults. Another 30% rationalised the lack of evidence due to government cover ups. The following is based on true unexplained events…”


So, The House of the Devil is about a student called Samantha who is desperate for cash (to escape her annoying roommate who I probably would have been friends with) and takes a mysterious and totally ill-advised babysitting job. That’s pretty much the premise and everything that happens afterwards is dastardly and weird and scary. I mean….The House of the Devil? I don’t think she’ll be leaving with homemade cookies and a fruit basket. Oh yeah, and it’s lunar eclipse time as well – which seems to be driving everyone a little crazy.

It’s directed by horror regular Ti West and stars Jocelin Donahue and Tom Noonan (and Dee Wallace!). I just looked up Tom Noonan and discovered they’ve made a 12 Monkeys television show? WTF? Anyway. Donahue plays Samantha who seems like a studious and sensible young lady. Noonan plays Mr. Ulman – the guy looking for a babysitter and he comes across as a bit of weirdo. But everyone needs money, right?

So the best bits first. The film is so fucking retro! I didn’t know much about it to be honest and when it first started I was under the impression it was set now but with a nice little vintage nod to the old movies. Then these terrific title credits popped up and I began to doubt this theory.

openingcredits

The yellow writing. The clothes. The SONY WALKMAN. The music that you the reader can’t currently hear. And then we’re introduced to Samantha’s best friend Megan and her hairstyle confirmed to me that The House of the Devil is definitely not set in modern times.

friendhair

You don’t get hair flicks like that anymore. I liked Megan – she was a bit gross and a bit crude but she made me laugh. And she didn’t think the babysitting thing was a good idea – which it wasn’t.

But it’s not just appearances and clunky gadgets that make this film a throwback to the 80s, the way its filmed and the way in which the plot unfolds has a massive influence too. And it probably won’t be for everyone.

The House of the Devil will be loved by some and hated by others. The people who love it will describe it with words such as ‘distinctive’ or ‘atmospheric’ and find it genuinely suspenseful. The people who hate it will say ‘nothing happens’ or ‘boooooring!’ – which is fine, everyone gets excited by different things. And whilst I admit I was a little surprised at how long the suspense does go on for, there was never a dull moment! It was a fun, interesting movie with genuine uncertainty and fear. I enjoyed all aspects to it – getting to know Samantha, the intentional humour, the vintage vibes, the eerie build up.

houseofthedevil

And don’t let bored viewers bring you down, this IS an eerie film. Whilst Samantha is babysitting we know that something bad will inevitably happen. We know it’s highly possible that someone (or something) very fucking scary is in the room upstairs. And we know that Samantha is going to break something if she keeps dancing round the house like that.

dance

The House of the Devil is a film that encourages the viewer to look for clues. It wants us right there with Samantha feeling, well – similar to the way she feels I guess. As the evening progresses, Samantha knows something isn’t right (so obviously stuff does happen you bored bastards!). But as we’d all try to do in that situation, she ‘gets a grip’ and rationalises her fear.  Anyway, whilst the build-up might be slow-ish, it’s important to remember it does grow beautifully into a shocking (and bloody scary!) finale.

thehouseofthedevil3

I enjoyed The House of the Devil a lot. I like old horrors anyway and the fact this was made in 2009 is a testament to Ti West, he really did a great job of making it look like a genuine throwback from 1981. Of course it has its moments but I can’t find much to grumble about. Something about the ending really surprised me. Not in a bad way, it just…..surprised me. The tone of the film changed and suddenly I felt I was on a different rollercoaster – I kind of went from the Aerosmith ride straight to Space Mountain. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And in a sea of terrible horror movies (especially on Netflix, where I watched this) The House of the Devil is a breath of fresh air.

So if you like the 80s and hair flicks and rank looking pizza – watch it. If you like Tom Noonan, long telephone cords and watching skinny girls dance around in tight jeans – watch it.

And if you love horror films – for goodness sake watch it.

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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73 Responses to The House of the Devil (2009)

  1. Tom says:

    LOVE the Aerosmith ride to Space Mountain comparison! Haha that’s great.

    Also, for all the reasons you list at the end I think this film might just have to make it onto my steadily-growing Films-to-Watch-Soon list.

    Great piece!

    • emmakwall says:

      I’m so appreciative that you actually read this Tom! You’re a bloody legend ❤

      I'm glad you enjoyed that metaphor (is metaphor the right word?!) I have been on both rides and Space Mountain is scarier 🙂

      If you have Netflix you should defo watch it!! And if you don't have Netflix you should defo watch it anyway! Haha.

      Thanks again so much! Your comments always make me smile.

  2. Laura says:

    Yay, Emma! I really liked this, especially the vintage styling and feel. I wan’t so keen on the end part, but because the rest was so creepy and tense, I didn’t mind overall.

    • emmakwall says:

      Yay, Laura!! Hello and glad we agree – yet again!!!!!!

      The one thing I didn’t like or found a bit odd, at least was…

      *spoilers*

      When the devil shit turned out to be true. I liked the fact they were a satanic cult and I loved the bloody battle between them all. But I never expected all that jiggery pokery to ACTUALLY be true. I mean…wtf! Still a good film though 🙂

  3. Brilliant review, darling! We had very similar sentiments watching this! I really enjoyed it too but I won’t be posting my review for it until next week.

    The pizza did look pretty rank, didn’t it??

  4. beetleypete says:

    If you want to see some camp horror that isn’t the slightest bit scary, check this out. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095488/
    A young Hugh Grant with floppy hair, a young Peter Capaldi with even floppier hair, and a rubbish worm-monster. At least Amanda Donohoe is irresistibly sexy, and it’s all rounded up by Ken Russell, from the book by Bram Stoker.
    So bad, it’s bloody brilliant!

  5. Ryan says:

    Such a fantastic film.

  6. What the bloody hell is up with my autocorrect? It’s always annoying, but the past few weeks it’s like my tablets have gremlins 😦 😦 😦

  7. High! I think I have this in my Netflix queue Ems. I have to go check 🙂

  8. GaryGreg828 says:

    I actually have a completely different gripe. I for one didn’t think it was dull at all, and I loved the build-up, as I felt it was masterfully done. My issue with the film was in the final act once all the action started, and the silly occurrences that West should have fixed…

    SPOILERS (don’t read if you haven’t seen):

    When Samantha was on the floor and the guy was standing over her and she reaches her arm up and “stabs him in the throat”. LOL. How did her arms get that long???

    And when Samantha enters the room with a knife where the witch is, and the witch sees her and knows she has a knife, but turns her back to stare out the window, so she can easily get stabbed! lol.

    These are things that will ruin a horror movie, quick! I felt like I was watching “Scary Movie”. lol. I don’t understand how Ti West didn’t notice these things while filming and fix them. Isn’t that what a director is supposed to do?

    I mean for someone to pay so much attention to detail through the first two acts and do such a masterful job, and then do such an amateurish job in the final act, baffles me!

    The direction of the story was strong all the way through, and although I thought the very end was a bit over-the-top, I can forgive that; that wasn’t my issue. My issue was how sloppy it became once the action kicked off, and the fact they were very easy things to execute better. I don’t know, maybe he was rushed for time, or something. I really liked the first two acts, but then the final act deflated it for me to the point I was taken out of the story and could hardly take it serious anymore.

    I still recommend people see this film, though, just b/c the first two acts really are that good and Noonan is just so creepy and memorable. Good write up. Glad you liked it. It really is quite an experience, particularly the second act.

  9. beetleypete says:

    The screen shots look like a Hammer Films production, especially the titles. As far as babysitting films go, I don’t think they get much better that the original 1979 version of ‘When A Stranger Calls’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080130/
    “Have you checked the children?”
    Good review Emma.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • GaryGreg828 says:

      Pete’s right. “When A Stranger Calls” is one of the creepiest films ever; that and “Stranger in the House”.

    • emmakwall says:

      Yes it does!!! I love the Hammer films 🙂 well….the ones I’ve seen anyway.

      I have NEVER seen When A Stranger Calls but I am literally going to watch it in the next few weeks now. I’m in that kind of mood after House of the Devil and it looks fantastic! And that line you wrote does ring a bell…..creepy-tastic!

      Sold!

      Sound silly but I know I’m gonna love it, thanks so much Pete! x

  10. theipc says:

    My Dearest Clam!!!!!!!!!!!

    WOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!! I’m SO GLAD you liked it!!!! I love this movie and the haters can ——–> fuck off!!!

    GREAT WORK!!!

    Love Pen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    #extras

    • emmakwall says:

      They can fuck off! Go watch Ouija or something like that you brain dead morons!!!! Haha. Too far?!!!

      Love Clam! (sorry I’ve missed some of your comments dear Pen, I’m trying to find them all now, it’s a hard task haha) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      • theipc says:

        My Dear Dear Clam,

        YOU RULE!!!!!

        #seanpertwee
        #rainboobs
        #hardtimes
        #ankleclicks

        Love Pen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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