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Sunday, November 01, 2009

24 The House of the Devil

The House of the Devil
Dir. TI West
Fright Level: 6/10
Scare Type: Atmosphere, girl in peril.

House of the Devil's awesome poster looks worn from years of display. The film has credits, music, and costumes that let us know perfectly that this is not just a period film, but a film from a specific period, with a specific vocabulary. This isn't a "hey look it looks like an 80's movie!" this is an 80's movie that happened to be released a quarter century late. The film's techniques, its progression are pitch-perfect for a late 70's early 80's horror film. The one weakness is, and its always tricky with period films, is that the dialogue does come across as anachronistic at times.

The film concerns Samantha, a college Sophomore who is short of cash and trying to get into a new apartment. She answers an add for a babysitting job, and is quickly contacted by a very strange and desperate sounding man. Oh, and that night is a rare full lunar eclipse, and Samantha's town is the best place on earth to view it. She takes the job, which it turns out is watching his elderly mother. You can guess where the film goes from there and you'll probably be right, but the film is so well executed, setting up a heavy level of atmosphere, and it does what it does so well, that you can forgive it for its lack of originality. This is not only a great homage to early 80's video titles, but in some ways surpasses some of those films without coming across snarky, fetishistic, or condescending.

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