Fantastic Fest – House of the Devil

The House of the Devil, by Ti West (Cabin Fever 2, The Wicked), is a homage to late ’70’s/early ’80’s horror movies and does a great job of slavishly reproducing the look and feel of movies from that time, from the lead actress’ feathered hair to the cinematography, title and credits, everything.

The lead, Samantha (Jocelyn Donahue) is a poor college student trying to make enough money to get a place of her own, and takes a babysitting job at a big house out of the city to that end and OH GOD SATANISTS!  The plot is the usual chick chased around a big house thing.  Donahue does a good job and the movie is suspenseful, it gets you with a couple good scares.   It resembles a film made in 1982 in just about every respect – story, effects, score, characters.  (With the welcome exception that the lighting work didn’t suck as bad as it did in the older movies, always a pet peeve of mine.)

That’s a cool and interesting accomplishment, and I enjoyed my time watching House of the Devil enough, but I didn’t think it was all that interesting once you got past the ’80’s reproduction thing.  It was a little bit too much Halloween meets Rosemary’s Baby; I liked the ’80’s tone but wanted the plot to be a little more than a retread.  It was gripping, though, and would be somewhere in the top 30% of 1980s horror movies.  Which, come to think of it, puts it above about 90% of the crap put out in the last year or so, thus I guess in the end analysis House of the Devil is pretty good.

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