The House of the Devil

Year: 2009
Director: Ti West
Cast: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Greta Gerwig, Mary Woronov, Dee Wallace

A cross between When A Stranger Calls and the recent little seen independent film Babysitter Wanted, The House of the Devil is an interesting entry into the contemporary horror genre. It centers around a co-ed named Samantha who desperately needs to move out of her dorm into her own apartment due to her roommate's disrespectful and dirty behavior. She finds her dream apartment; the only problem is that she doesn't exactly have the $300 needed to rent the place. So, she responds to a Babysitter Wanted sign posted on her university's bulletin board. Needless to say, she takes the job, which happens to be in an old, creepy house located on the outskirts of town owned by a regal, yet odd older couple. Despite being told when she arrives that she isn't, in fact, babysitting for a child, but rather an elderly lady, Samantha decides to stay because she needs the money just that bad. Predictably, nothing is as it seems, and by the end of the evening, Sam surely wishes she would have opted for a stint as the fry girl at the local McDonald's instead.

The story takes place in the 80's, and the director took painstaking measures to make sure the film appears like it is from that era; the protagonist and her female friend both sport the Farrah Fawcett feathered hairdo; the opening and closing credits are reminiscent of many horror films from the time period; and, instead of possessing a sleek Ipod, the main character hauls around a cassette playing walkman that is just about the size of a cereal box. The film even has that popular 80's grainy quality to it. The film is not polished or sleek like so many recent horror movies, and that is, indeed, what makes the film so interesting. However, this alone can't redeem the fact that the film, for most of its running time, is incredibly slow and there are long instances where nothing happens except for out lead girl listening to her walkman and dancing around to cheesy 80's music. Unlike When A Stranger Calls, there are not any creepy phone calls or suspenseful action to make the film as effective as it could be. The climax of the film is somewhat creepy, albeit predictable, and really doesn't give the viewer a satisfying pay off.

Still, I see why some people are head over heels for this film; it IS interesting and different, yet interesting and different doesn't automatically equate to a great film. Viewers expecting more will be let down by the slow pace. There are a handful of creepy scenes; but trust me, they are nothing you haven't seen before.

Overall, check it out. Don't go in expecting a groundbreaking film like some of the hype leads you to believe, and you might enjoy the experience.

Fright Meter Grade:

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