Imagine this: it’s the 1980’s and you’re a struggling college student, as most of us were, but you were able to find a job babysitting! Samantha, our main character in House of the Devil, is desperately seeking employment. After being stood up for an initial meeting with a mysterious man from a babysitting ad, he later contacts Samantha and apologizes; she graciously accepts it and makes her way to the reclusive house. To her surprise once she arrives, she finds out the couple doesn’t actually have any children, but instead, they want her to care for the wife’s sickly mother. She doesn’t like the idea at all, but finally accepts once the gentleman offers double the cash of the original amount provided; the only stipulation is just to be attentive in case of an emergency, nothing else. Is this all to good to be true? Well, you’ll have to find out in this 2009 film by writer/director Ti West.
In my opinion, I believe this film was VERY well done. Filmed in 16mm, Director West added almost every single detail of an 80’s film: opening credits, minimum dolly work (a tracking shot that moves with the character) if any at all, soundtrack, setting, and just overall tone. But one of my favorite things that he did with the film was simply creating the tension and anticipation. You could just feel the evil skulking around, ready to.. Do the evil stuff, whatever that may be.
The characters look, sound, and feel as if West pulled them straight out of 1983. Everyone who is introduced throughout the movie really adds to the story. No part feels contrived and the actors and actresses chosen suit their roles adeptly.
The soundtrack emphasizes what is happening on screen as well as compliments the era with a few nods to some popular tracks from that time period. It is used sparingly; by doing this, it amps up the creepiness and ambiance tenfold without going overboard and taking you out of the scene. If anything, it draws you in more, unknowingly unsettling your mind.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. I loved the fact that he made an accurate time piece that seemed to pay homage to classic 80’s horror films! At times it can seem to be a bit of a slow burner, but there was just enough tension to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what’s going to happen next. If you’re one to enjoy a horror film that steadily creeps upward to a grueling climax, The House of the Devil is one to check out. Across the board, I’d say 8/10.
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