Wednesday, March 10, 2010

House of the Devil (2009, Ti West)


I love 80s horror movies very, very much.  There is just something about them that just can't be replicated.  A certain feel, look, sound, smell (the plastic on an old clamshell VHS rental anyone?).  Everything about them is so specific to that time in horror and I love it.  So then this movie comes along called House of the Devil that is being praised as an 80s horror movie only made 20 years later.  I was skeptical at first but the more praise I heard, the more I wanted to see it.  How can anyone capture an 80s horror film in the present day?

House of the Devil is the story of Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a sophomore in college who desperately needs money fast to pay for her new apartment.  Sam spots an add for a babysitter and quickly applies.  After being stood up for the job, her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) helps her get a call back and she quickly accepts.  After arriving, Sam finds out that she's not taking care of a child but an elderly woman.  Sam makes herself at home after being told that the woman keeps to herself and is self sufficient.  So why did they need Sam?  Oh just wait...you'll find out.

Amazingly, Ti West succeeded in making an 80s horror film in 2009.  House of the Devil has all of the necessary ingredients (hell, they even released a VHS version which comes in a clambox case) of the best of 80s horror.  The film's characters and the grainy cinematography fit perfectly in with the director's aspirations.  Jocelin Donahue is very believable as an 80s horror heroine and the mysterious Ulman's, played by Tom (Manhunter) Noonan and Mary (Death Race 2000) Woronov, bring a wonderful sense of mystery.  Though a little slow in the first half, so were most of the 80s horror films.  When the film picks up, it will knock you on your ass with plenty of terrifying images and jump out of your seat scares.  Who says they don't make them like they used to?

RATING:  8/10

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