Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness.
Shot on 16mm film (very popular in the 80s) to give it a retro stylistic look. See more »
The Connecticut license plates used in the film were not issued until 2000. In the 80s, when the film is set, passenger cars would generally have plates with white letters/numbers on a solid blue background, not the "blue fade" design currently in use and shown in the film. See more »
I can tell you like it.
Oh, I love it. It's perfect.
Well, great. It's such a neat place. You know, I showed it to another girl this morning, but to be honest I did like her very much. She looked like trouble, and I'm way too old to be dealing with all that nonsense. I go a lot on my gut feelings, and I have a good one about you. You remind me of my daughter.
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Samantha is shown lying down on a hospital bed over the closing credits. See more »
A masterclass in the atmospheric chiller...until the resolution
I find it impossible to give this movie less than a seven, because, even if the ending was absolutely a letdown, the first 80% of the movie was so excellently constructed that its cinematic value cannot be lessened too greatly.
And excellent The House of the Devil is for most of its duration. Director/Writer/Editor Ti West shows a remarkable proficiency for being able to truly scare, through an excellent slow-burn build-up, allowing the atmosphere of the titular house and the anticipation for when it is inevitably released to bring a viewer to nail-biting fear, rather than simply trying to startle with constant Boo! Got'cha! "scares," or excessive gore. In the end, this method is far more effective and lasting, less artificial than the latter methods which seem to, unfortunately, be the bread and butter of modern American horror filmmakers.
However, when the denouement rolls around, this is completely thrown out the window. Sure, the gore may look nice (and indeed it does; not top of the line, but it belies the film's budget), but it completely abandons House's almost regal sense of restraint that worked so effectively for nearly the entire length of the movie. Not to mention, the transition in styles is itself so jarring that I was pulled from the experience for nearly 10 minutes, an unfortunate occurrence when that covers almost the entire duration of the remainder. The release of the built up fear was clumsy and ineffective, and the effect of the movie after the credits rolled was erased. I wasn't left with the feeling that something could be lurking just out of sight over my shoulder that the best horror movies provide; a tension that extends beyond the movie's run-time. This problem I believe to later be solved by Ti West's later film "The Innkeepers," a picture I believe (and seemingly in the minority) to be the superior movie.
However, despite its eventual letdown, the remainder of House of the Devil was truly a horror experience I rarely see from recent American horror films, this difference between House of the Devil and its peers thrown into sharp relief by the clearly nostalgic feel it gives off, even from the opening credits. Even the grainy camera shots add a sense of, for lack of a better word, enjoyable "retro" style, rather than becoming a detriment. And the camera work itself is also exemplary, snaking and twisting its way among the oppressive halls of the house that seems more an antique than something to be lived in.
The House of the Devil is unquestionably a good movie. For most of the film, I was completely drawn in, waiting with a rising anticipation to see what was lurking around the corner; The House of the Devil is truly scary even with its superficial sense of the mundane. Nothing is shown, save for one particularly haunting shot of what lies behind a door that remains (at least temporarily) unopened, and it is all the better for that. But this is before (please excuse the pun) everything goes to Hell at the climax. I'd certainly recommend this film; just don't expect the release to be able to come close to matching the rising action.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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