The House of the Devil (2009) Poster

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any second now i'll be blown away... maybe not
RickHarvey13 June 2010
Well then, what do we have here? A modern horror film placed in the 70/80s era. I already like Ti West thinking. With most Horror films today being god damn awful, it refreshing to see one which pays homage to the classics while trying to be unique. From start to finish, the film is littered with classic horror references. The opening titles design, the babysitter, Satanism. Even some parts of the music score is identical to the famous Halloween score.

Now then, this film is very slow. It takes it time to build up, in fact, it takes the main character 30 minutes to reach the house. Thank god then that Samatha was likable. Now, it doesn't matter how slow a film starts, i mean the shining is regarded as slow but there one big contrast between the film's build up. One goes somewhere the other doesn't . Once we finally get to the house, we do nothing more than watch Samatha stroll around for the rest of the film.

West atmosphere is perfect, his camera work was great, the suspension was brilliant but nothing ever came from these very few moments. The suspense just keeps building , West keeps on adding more fuel onto the fire until finally he runs out and the credits starts rolling . Very little happens and when we do reach the final act, it ends up being boring and forgettable.

This film looks great but sadly , the script is poor leaving a potential film into a easily forgettable one. If you particularly enjoy watching people do nothing for a hour and 10 minutes, then this is highly recommended
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Artful Emulation of the 1980s Film
gavin694213 October 2012
In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret.

I absolutely love that director Ti West did everything he could to make this come off as a 1980s movie -- the style, the 16mm camera, releasing the film in a clam shell box (I am surprised they actually allowed this last one). Opinions vary, but I think it is safe to say the (modern) golden age for horror was the 1980s. And here we are, adding another 80s film to the list (sort of).

West also managed to hire genre actors Tom Noonan, Dee Wallace and Mary Woronov for the picture, which I think fans appreciate. Larry Fessenden served as a producer, and this may be the best project Fessenden was ever attached to.

What I find as strange is how this film is very highly rated by people. Not that it is a bad film. I enjoyed it. But I think it is interesting that the film gets a lot of credit for working in the 1980s style. Had this identical film come out in the 1980s, it may have hardly registered among its peers. This film rides the wave of nostalgia... and it rides it well.
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suspenseful buildup, less satisfying resolution
Buddy-5122 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In "The House of the Devil," a young co-ed (Jocelin Donahue), hard-up for money to pay the rent on her new place off campus, answers an ad for a babysitting job way out in the boonies, only to be plunged headlong into a bizarre devil-worshipping cult in search of a sacrificial victim.

Set in the 1980s - in a time before cell phones gave us at least the illusion of connectedness and security - this refreshingly unadorned and unembellished thriller does something rather unique with its structure (possibly a necessity brought on by its extremely low budget). The story comes to such a slow boil that the stretched-out tension becomes almost unbearable, thereby enhancing the atmosphere of dread.

Unfortunately, die-hard slasher movie fans may be disappointed by the rather rushed, truncated and anticlimactic nature of the final scenes, in which our heroine finds herself being held captive by some of the most feckless and least competent kidnappers in horror movie history.

Still, the suspenseful buildup is more than compensation for the half-baked and halfhearted resolution that follows.
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Creeps up on you
kosmasp25 October 2009
This is more Horror Drama, then straight Horror movie. And the build up time takes ... well it's time! There is more build up time here, then actually payoff time. In other words, if you are a gore hound, you should look for other movies to get your blood pumping (or whatever else it is you want it to do).

This movie though is based on an actual fear that was spreading around in the 80s in America. People were very afraid of certain things (depicted in here) and Ti West captures that mood in every detail. You could be excused, if you thought this movie was actually shot in the 80s! But it isn't and even if some hoped for more scares in the movie, I think this movie is balanced very neatly! You just have to be patient enough to wait until the end ... and the payoff is there for everyone to see!
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They don't make 'em like they used to
BandSAboutMovies1 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I love that this movie starts with this crawl: During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults... Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups... The following is based on true unexplained events..."

With this burst of white on black type, The House of the Devil sets itself up as not just an 80s loving slasher, haunted house and satanic panic film. It reaches back to the occult film roots of the 70s, when every movie was supposedly based on a true story. This worrisome addition - it could have happened to someone you know - pushes this film past simple pastiche toward work of genius.

At some unnamed time in the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue, who played the younger Barbara Hershey in Insidious Chapter 2, which is a meta bit of casting if I've ever seen one) wants to escape the college dorm she shares with her boorish roommate. A landlady (Dee Wallace in a great cameo that does as much to ground this film within its time as that title card open) says that she reminds her of her daughter, so she forgoes a security deposit, which gives hope to our struggling heroine.

A potential babysitting job for Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan, who is always a welcome site) and his wife (Mary Woronov, who we love so much we made a Letterboxd list of her films). Samantha wants the job so bad that even after the first attempt at getting it falls through, her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig, who would go on to write and direct Ladybird) tears down every other flyer, ensuring that she gets the job.

Things get weird. But hey - when the job pays $400 for just a few hours, weird is fine. Unbeknownst to Samantha, a mysterious stranger has already killed Megan and delivers a pizza that begins to warp her mind. There's a great Walkman scene here that ends with a vase broken, the reveal that the original family in this house is dead and that all is not what it seems.

Then Samantha wakes up, bound and gagged inside a pentagram, whole the Ulmans and their son (the stranger who killed Megan and delivered the pizza) begin a ritual with their "mother" which involves forcing our heroine to drink blood from a goat's skull. For a film that has crawled to this point, all hell quite literally breaks loose in a fervor of gore, flashes and quick cuts. It appears that our heroine has been picked to become the mother of the devil, but she has her own ideas of how to escape that fate.

The 16mm film look of this film - as well as the zooms within the frame - is a signifier that this film is of the decade - and the one proceeding it - that inspired it. It feels real, however, and not just a movie claiming to be Carpenter influenced. It lives and breathes and sounds of the time.

I haven't liked much of director, writer and editor Ti West's other films, but here, I feel like he captured eldritch energy in a bottle. There's even a reference to the Patrick Dempsey film Loverboy, as the mysterious man asks if Samantha wants extra anchovies, the code that that film's pizza shop used to indicate whether or not they should send one of their male escorts. Plus, the name of the Ulman's is taken directly from the hotel manager in The Shining, a film that West has cited as an influence.
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Good, but uneven, throwback to 80's religious horror
LoneWolfAndCub8 April 2012
Ti West, who directed the underrated Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, is a name to watch out for. The House of the Devil, although not fantastic, proves that West has an excellent eye for visuals, details and creating suspense. This film feels as though it has come directly out of the 80's, more like a lost film of some horror director like John Carpenter or Tobe Hooper than a second feature by a new millennium director. From the opening and end credits, to the walkman, fashion, soundtrack and the slightly faded visuals, even the storyline, centred on babysitters and Satanists feels like the movie belongs back in the 80's.

Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a college student who needs money fast. Her roommate is a disgusting slob, and Samantha is a neat-freak, lucky for her she has found an apartment, but needs money to pay the rent. She stumbles across a babysitter advert at the college and quickly applies. Soon enough she is meeting with Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) and his odd wife Mrs. Ulman (Mary Woronov) on the night of the lunar eclipse. Straight away it is obvious to us, and Samantha's friend Megan (Greta Gerwig), that this job is a setup for some sinister goings down (hence the title 'The House of the Devil').

The first 40 minutes of this movie are excellent. Samantha is a character we can care about and a sense of dread permeates the proceedings. However, once the babysitting starts very little happens and the movie slows to a halt which ultimately destroys the fantastic mood setup. Events pick up at 75 minute mark, but with only 15 minutes left the final act is rushed with no time to generate any scares (apart from some nice gory deaths).

The cast do an excellent job, the exchanges between Mr. Ulman and Samantha are deliciously creepy, and the house itself is reminiscent of the Amityville house. The actual story is quite good, nothing new or exciting but a simple little devil-themed yarn with a little twist. Unfortunately it is the pacing which is this film's undoing, and it is a shame because it really could have been an amazingly good film otherwise.

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A masterclass in the atmospheric chiller...until the resolution
tsheridan9410 June 2012
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.
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10 minutes movie
Dean_DX13 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have never seen a movie like this. I'm sorry to say this, but this is by far one of the most boring movies I've ever seen in my life.

The storyline is not that bad, but, it looks that the writer didn't have time to actually write something!! I'm sure that the screenplay doesn't have more than 20 sheets, because it's impossible...

Bad actings, bad ambientation, horrible screenplay, and, just to finish with greatness, 75 minutes of a young girl doing absolutely NOTHING!!! And after that 10 mins of "action", and that's all... The freakin' movie doesn't even has an ending!!! I'm just going to beg you something, please, for the love of God, don't waste 85 minutes of your life watching this!! I wish someone would tell me this before!!
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The Devil is in the Details, and the Classic Horror
spencergrande64 November 2009
The House of the Devil is a fastidiously detailed, pitch-perfect homage to 80's horror, that adheres to genre conventions while at the same time transcending them. Director Ti West understands what makes horror films work, that the horror is always more exciting when you don't know when to expect it. Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, typical college-girl hoping to get a place of her own but without the cash to do so. She accepts a babysitting job that promises to pay well, and is then left in a creepy house in the middle of nowhere. Borrowing a page from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and others) playbook, the been there, done that story is absolutely the point, complete with opening statistics promising a true story. Horror doesn't need to be complicated, just well executed. West builds dread and terror like a pro, understanding the classic Hitchcock sensibility that people fear what they don't see, and what they don't know (Lovecraft said so as well). In the face of torture porn and slasher flicks, where the only horror is the gore and the murder (and unnecessary soundtrack spikes), it is quite unsettling to be subjected to a thrill ride like this one.
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The Devil Craps Out
rwharris-906882 January 2021
Warning: Spoilers
When you call your movie "The House of the Devil", and begin said movie with a title card that more than heavily implies that it's going to involve Satanism, you'd probably be well advised to bring something new to the table. Unfortunately, Ti West seems to be blissfully unaware that Rosemary's Baby already exists, and fails magnificently in displaying any kind of originality whatsoever as a result. Don't be fooled by the retro style credits and zoom-ins; it's a stylistic concession which is dropped less than 15 minutes after the movie has started, giving you the distinct impression that Ti West once saw a horror movie from the 1980's but couldn't quite remember it.

With respect to the pacing of the film, a slow-burn set up does not a great movie make, especially when the pay-off signals itself from over three quarters of a mile away. I found myself more bored than tense, and entirely unable to muster any kind of empathy for these blank-slate characters spewing out inane dialogue.

Ponderous and completely devoid of tension or satisfaction.
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NOT a Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Scary, Suspenseful, or Anything But Dull
quitwastingmytime17 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
It's obvious there's people close to the film or paid by them to boost the ratings of this film. The same cookie cutter positive reviews that have no relation to reality.

This film is D U L L. Beyond slow. Nothing happens. Loooooong scenes where the main character walks to the phone...walks to her car....walks to her room. She doesn't even get to the "scary" house until 45 minutes in.

Then it's another half hour of her walking around the house...walking to the phone...walking upstairs...walking to the kitchen.

That's it. The great Mary Woronov is wasted, showing up for two minutes. The other actors, also less than two minutes. You watch an uninteresting skinny teen walk...and walk...and walk.

No suspense. None. Predictable.

No mystery. None. Predictable.

And no horror. None. The last 15 minutes have some weak gore, cookie cutter villains, and a "mystery" we predicted from the start...

...and minor attempts at action that make no sense. A girl goes from knocked out from drugs to squirming tied up to free and beating the three bad guys all by herself...all within two minutes.

So an ending that's insulting, confusing, and leaves the viewer feeling angry and cheated.

Avoid at all costs. I started fast forwarding by two minutes at a time after the first 20 minutes, and still felt bored and upset that this film wasted 40 minutes of my time.
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dull and full of anachronism
marymorrissey13 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
it figures that the LA Weekly would single this movie out for praise. It was DULL. And, yeah, the ending made no sense whatsoever. Nothing that the girl saw ought to have given her any sense that there was anything truly supernatural afoot. Unless you count her miraculously getting loose from her bonds! That was pretty convenient and not very imaginative. Tom Noonan's performance in reminded me of someone going over his lines just to see if he had them. Awful! The girl was alone on screen for most of the film and it was asking too much that she should carry the movie. I'm trying to remember what other film it is - I think one of the "alien" series - in which a character is scared witless, creeping about all paranoid in one scene, and in the next (way overly long) scene somehow decides the thing to do is to put on a walkman and just bop around carelessly until she bumps into the monster. This appeared to have been shot on film, for what that's worth, with inadequate light. The bulk of the story was pretty much pointless. They might as well have just grabbed the victim and tied her up as soon as her friend left. And how the hell was she supposed to have been impregnated? The "surprise ending" was straight out of "surprise ending central" for there surely is such a thing. You'd think you would at least be careful to avoid contemporary figures of speech like "I don't want anymore drama!" in a film set in the 80s. Mary Woronov was more or less OK. She didn't have a hell of a lot to work with, but she's quite used to that!
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A huge disappointment
Superunknovvn6 January 2010
Ti West's idea to make "The House Of The Devil" look like a forgotten horror flick of the 80's without any ironic self-awareness seemed really cool. As promising as the trailer looked, the finished movie is a huge letdown.

West gets the look of an 80's horror flick right. The actresses and actors are cast well and even the music is almost right (with the drums sounding too modern and well-produced). The real weak point of "The House Of The Devil" is the script. There is waaaaaay too much exposition: A lot of walking around, uninteresting conversation and nothing much happening at all. If in the third act there was a big payoff to all that, the movie might have redeemed himself, but the climax is so boring and clichéd, you'll wonder why you had to sit through the 70 minutes or so that preceded it. In this last third of the movie West doesn't even stay true to 80's horror anymore: The main villains make-up looks like something out of "The Descent", the quick cuts suddenly turn "The House Of The Devil" into "SAW".

It seems, as if a lot of horror fans, who praise Ti West for this picture, are confusing the concept with the outcome. As great as the original idea was, as authentic as the posters and even the movie itself look, there is no thrill whatsoever in "The House Of The Devil". It's even more frustrating when you think about how cool this could have been. But Ti West has already established himself as a hack with his previous movies. This one is just further proof of his mediocrity.
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Like a Lost Horror Classic from 1982
Llakor27 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
If the producers of this film were smart, they would deny that Ti West wrote and directed this film and claim that it was a lost film of the early eighties that they found in a drawer at Paramount. Say a lost Tobe Hooper film that Tobe did right before doing Poltergeist. Something that Steven Spielberg bought to keep from competing with Poltergeist and shoved in a drawer somewhere.

Because it's that good. The House of the Devil feels like it should have been released back in 1982, from the feathered hair of the leads, to the Walkman, to the music and sound, to the slow build of the suspense, to the vintage titles. It is even a mash-up of the late seventies obsessions with baby-sitters in peril (When a Stranger Calls) and satanism in the suburbs (The Omen). Most importantly, it has all the slow-burn intensity of the great horror films of that period.

The baby-sitter in peril is Samantha (Jocelin Donahue). A college student, she is doing baby-sitting gigs because she needs money for a new apartment and desperately wants to get out of her dorm. Her roommate is a sex-addict and a slob and Samantha as a neat-freak germaphobe finds both behaviours repulsive. The job that Samantha ends up taking, on the night of a full lunar eclipse, is obviously (cue Admiral Ackbar) a trap, more obvious to the audience than to Samantha because we know that the name of the film is The House of the Devil, because her employer is Tom Noonan, the original Red Dragon from Michael Mann's Manhunter and because Samantha is too self-absorbed to notice that she is in danger.

There is a danger to read too much into it, but there is a very real sense that this film is pitched perfectly at the divide between the sex and drugs disco party lifestyle of the Seventies and the money-obsessed, self-absorbed Eighties.

There is even a sense in which the film (with the benefit of filmmaker hindsight) acts as a horror metaphor explaining how the drugs and sex excesses of the Seventies led to the health catastrophes of the Eighties, especially AIDS. Samantha may not know exactly why she is a germaphobe, nor why she is so freaked out by the house she is sitting at, but her anxieties are well-placed.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? -William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.
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Fantastic slow burn
eddie_baggins12 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ignoring the advice of her best friend, college sophomore Samantha has accepted a babysitting job for the mysterious and secretive Mr and Mrs Ulman on the night of a full lunar eclipse. The elderly couple live in a large family home outside town, and with no ride back in, Samantha is stranded and forgotten about in the quiet and haunting estate, a place harbouring deadly and obvious secrets. Despite learning a number of questionable facts regarding the duties she is being paid to perform (or lack of duties), Samantha proceeds with the job, eventually leading to a horrifying, goose-bump inducing finale guaranteed to please any self-respecting horror fan.

Samantha is dazed and weak, and at the mercy of an unseen force. She faints. She wakes on the floor of a large, damp room, her hands and feet tied to the surrounding walls and the image of a pentagram engraved in the timber floor beneath her. Mr and Mrs Ulman relish in her fear, and, wearing robes in service of a higher power, begin a ceremony of mutilation. Outside, the moon is burning in a blood-red hue, threatening Samantha and awaiting it's time to entirely disappear and cast complete darkness; hiding the evil acts taking place in the large family home outside town.

Blood is shed, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last. The image of our once innocent and charismatic protagonist wielding a knife with the intention of revenge and drenched in desperation and fear, with her back to the walls of an imposing and intimidating residence is at once shocking and profound. She escapes, having been forced to drink the dark red liquid from the skull of a goat and murder those who would murder her in the hope of giving life to the dead and imprisoned, but at what cost? A night spent in hell must give way to a lifetime of torment, and perhaps the ordeal Samantha has just been through was only the start of much, much worse things to come.

Ti West's outstanding first effort as writer/director (he had previously helmed the troubled but intriguing Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, and has since crafted the impeccable The Innkeepers and the soon-to-be-released The Sacrament) is an accurate and articulate throw-back to the 80's in the Roman Polanski mould of film-making. Atmosphere is constantly at the fore-front, and pacing is structured perfectly throughout, gradually building to the unforgettable climax. The aforementioned scene in particular showcases the mastery West has at his disposal. Terror is a universal emotion, and inbuilt in all of us, once it is tapped into the result can be unspeakable. Watching the scene we can be scared, but comforted knowing it is just a movie, when viewed from the point of view of the hero however, we can understand just how blatantly horrifying this moment is.

The House of the Devil is a genuine treat for lovers of film and a very welcome sight in a time of endless remakes and sequels.

4.5 pizza delivery guys out of 5

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Another brilliant chapter in Ti West's unwritten horror anthology masterpiece
StevePulaski18 March 2015
Ti West has proved time and time again he's capable of not simply making a film that's a brilliant homage to classic, 1970's horror films, but he's capable of making such a film stand on its own and be a truly remarkable piece of work even if examined outside of the aforementioned context. West's The House of the Devil adheres to the principles that would continue to be upheld through his future with films, which would be emphasizing mounting dread and slowburn suspense rather than slambang action with no pay off or long-term resonance. He crafts The House of the Devil so delicately and intricately, making the house the most interesting character in the film (something one would've assumed mainstream horror would've discovered, what with all the haunted house films being made today), building suspense through the use of long, slow takes, and even incorporating some fun and lively 1970's tunes in for good measure.

The film revolves around Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a college student desperately looking to make end's meet to pay for the expensive new apartment she just bought. She takes up a babysitting job for Mr. and Mrs. Ulman (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), a wealthy couple who live in a lavish home. While Ulman initially accepts her offer, he stands her up and goes with another sitter, leading him to deeply apologize and offering double her original salary to watch the house late one night while him and his wife go out. Samantha gets a ride from her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) to the home, where much to Samantha's surprise, Mr. Ulman reveals they have no children. He coerces her into staying by saying all she needs to do is make sure his ailing mother is attended to when she's in need and the house is kept in fine shape. Reluctantly, especially after being stood up once and misled the second time, she agrees following Ulman's increase in pay. Megan takes off, the Ulman's depart, and it's Samantha, Mr. Ulman's ailing mother, and the house to themselves.

West recognizes that despite The House of the Devil being a horror film, he doesn't always have to feel like he's setting something up in terms of momentary payoff nor does he ever feel like he has to constantly find ways to scare and play with the audience's emotions. For example, in one of the film's best scenes, Samantha throws her headphones on and cranks up her Walkman to full blast so she can dance around the Ulman's home blasting The Fixx's infectious "One Thing Leads to Another." Little scenarios like this, that don't really add anything to the plot or the suspense and show the characters being humans are exactly what Quentin Tarantino did so subversively in 1994 with Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs two years prior. It was also a tactic adapted by other filmmakers in the 1990's such as Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee, and several others. It's dialog or situational antics that don't add anything to the storyline but provide characters with more personality and human characteristics than previously shown. It's a keen reminder to all that not everything a film does has to build to something, and West never overuses this element in a negative way or gives us boring material to watch unfold.

On top of that, Eliot Rockett's cinematography is superb here, as Rockett and West are essentially playing inside an enormous home. It's a layered home with knick-knacks, beautiful furniture, complex decoration, eye-catching decor, old-fashioned wallpaper, and complete with antiques galore. It would appear at times, as West directs his camera through the home, that he himself is getting lost in the beauty and the ominous atmosphere of it all. Samantha has enough free range as a character to simply walk around the home and explore every nook and cranny. The only thing West doesn't do, unfortunately, is confine the audience inside the house for the entirety of the film; unfortunately, he takes us out of the setting on a couple occasions (particularly to introduce us to the stranger that is AJ Bowen). However, West rebounds by delivering more suspenseful scenarios throughout The House of the Devil, and they're so well-crafted that the downtime is inherently unsettling as is because we're just waiting for West to surprise us with something else.

The House of the Devil concludes on a note that some may view as too broad and too familiar, but it's a conclusion that's warranted and, after seeing how West plays the horror game, especially in his later films, the excitement and the rush of events doesn't come as a big surprise. His horror films are so fleshed out and detailed with little intricacies, in addition to giving life to characters and certain situations, that it's as if each individual film he makes is a chapter in a terrific horror anthology book. Moreover, an especially rare horror anthology book that features one good story after another.

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, Dee Wallace, and AJ Bowen. Directed by: Ti West.
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80's Horror Nostalgia done RIGHT!
RockPortReview19 February 2010
The House of the Devil (2009) 02/13/2010

The 1980's were a golden age for horror movies, and many filmmakers today try to recapture that magic in their own films. Director Ti West's film "The House of the Devil" is yet another example, and for the most part succeeds in his efforts. Making a period horror film for under a million dollars is in itself a great accomplishment. This movie is not without its flaws though.

The movie centers on Samantha, played quite well by Jocelin Donahue. She is a college sophomore looking to move into her own apartment and get away from the dorms and her inconsiderate roommate. Her best friend is Megan, complete with 80's hair and attitude. Samantha replies to an ad for a babysitter and sets up to meet the man on the phone, but he stands her up. Being that there are no cell phones we get to see long lost items like pay phones and rotary phones, ahh that brings me back. The man calls Samantha the next day to apologize and to offer her more money. Megan drives her over to the house and they meet a tall older man with a cane. He comes clean that its not you average babysitting job and ups her pay. She accepts $400 for a few hours of work.

As you might have guessed the movie is called "The House of the Devil" for a reason. Instead of babysitting a child, Samantha's job is to watch over "mother" who is in a second floor room. A great deal of the movie involves Samantha roaming the house and checking things out. Like most babysitters she's bored has some time to waste. She calls Megan a few times but she has yet to return home. We see that Megan's fate is one of films best and surprising horror scenes. This film has angered a lot of casual horror fans in the fact that there is not a lot that really happens. It's a very slow burn type of story and very atmospheric. This makes the last fifteen minutes of the film that more intense. That family has something horrific in store for Samantha when they return. My biggest gripe with the film is the completely illogical final minutes. Maybe that has something to do with the 80's time period but its just like, really?

All in all this film is made for a very specific audience and not many people will ever see it, but for director Ti West this is another stepping stone in what looks to be a growing career. He has most recently finished making Cabin Fever 2 and will be filming "The Innkeepers" soon. For horror fans he is definitely a talent to keep your eye on.
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Little going on
Leofwine_draca2 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is by director Ti West who made a name for himself in the horror genre a decade or so ago with his low budget slow-burning supernatural movies like this and THE INNKEEPERS. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL follows a student called Samantha, who, desperate to earn enough money to pay rent on her new home, accepts an evening babysitting job from creepy Mr. Ulman (MANHUNTER star Tom Noonan). While in the house alone that night she begins to suspect that all is not right with either the house or the Ulmans...

I'm aware that this film is highly regarded and I did want to like it but it just didn't do it for me. It's a real slow-burner with only one major surprise in the first 70 minutes, the rest just consisting of the protagonist going through the motions of her job: dancing around in the kitchen, talking on the phone, the usual non-cinematic stuff. A bit like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS but without the tension. I didn't think much of the boring Samantha character at all and I was twiddling my thumbs throughout the first hour. West throws in some mildly ominous music but the rest is so low key that I felt it had no atmosphere at all. The end goes for something different, all shaky cam and gore, but I found this part largely predictable and the ending ridiculous.
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Don't see why the rating are high
willandcharlenebrown12 October 2020
There isn't much here. Easy to predict. Stupid the girl even stayed to baby sit grandma. Short and kind of dumb really. Again..... I see no reason to give this over a 4
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Embarrassingly bad ending ruins the entire build
jds121212-113 October 2020
I honestly can't believe how many people forgive one of the weakest climaxes ever produced in a horror movie (which is saying a lot because there are a lot of terrible horror climaxes) just because the slow tense build is phenomenal. It's like giving a restaurant a good review because the ambiance is very nice even if the food taste like an old shoe. This movie builds tension and intrigue like few I've ever seen. But when the ending is practically non-existent it can't be forgiven because the build was great. When a great build leads to nothing but excruciating disappointment it's like giving a an architect credit for a beautiful framework even if it completely collapses when the final few bricks are placed. That's the best way to describe this film. The bad bad ending destroys all that came before
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Critique of the overall movie
jordanjshanahan12 March 2017
House of the Devil is a film that delves the audience into an atmosphere of a classical slasher film. The scenery and style of the misc-en-scene throughout the film heavily mirrors that of the ideal 80s slasher such as Halloween. The scenery in the film is one of its defining characteristics that help this movie stand out from other modern day horror films that rely heavily on special effects.

The overall best aspect of this film is its growing suspense. This is not a movie for those who love gore and constant assault on the senses. For the grand majority of the movie the audience held down by so much expectation it becomes almost unbearable. The audience grows attached to the very attractive main character (Jocelin Donahue) who despite her and her friend's best efforts to be sensible throughout the film falls victim to classic horror movie stereotypes. This attraction and connection to the main character as the suspense continues to build at a grueling pace make this part of the film truly great.

The excellent use of growing suspense throughout the film is also its biggest downfall as the audience is filled to the brim with expectation only to have that feeling shattered by a very rushed ending. The ending assaults your senses too fast and is too unbelievable. The audience becomes disconnected as the realistic suspense of the majority of the film at this grueling pace is replaced by an unrealistic ending that happens all too fast.

Another positive aspect of this film that should be mentioned is the comic relief of the best friend (Greta Gerwig) delivering excellent amount of fun in the face of this growing suspense.

Overall the majority of this film has all the aspects of a classical slasher of growing suspense. However, the pacing at the end and the disconnect from this suspenseful first half of the film served as a large disappointment.
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$400 for a night's babysitting; nope, nothing suspicious about that...
BA_Harrison10 May 2010
Cash-strapped student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) accepts a 'babysitting' job at the home of elderly couple The Ulmans (Tom Noonan & Mary Woronov), despite plenty of warning signs that something is not right with the gig: she's being offered far too much money for the job; Mr. Ulman and his missus are waaaay too creepy; and there isn't even a child to look after!

Masquerading as a movie from the golden age of the slasher (late 70s to early 80s), The House of the Devil has been designed to appeal to old-school horror fans who like their films to take the time to develop atmosphere and build tension. Utilising convincing lo-fi visuals, a cool synth score, a retro title sequence, and neat period details (Farrah Fawcett flick hairstyles, a huge Walkman personal stereo, a rotary telephone with a cord), director Ti West painstakingly recreates the look and feel of the era. Unfortunately, he pays a lot less attention to the pacing and, after an hour of extremely slow build-up during which we get a few well crafted moments of tension but an awful lot of uneventful padding, the film erupts in a clumsy, rushed and chaotic last act that feels like it was grafted on from an entirely different movie.

With a tad more time spent rounding out his antagonists, a bit more detail about their nefarious plans, and a little less pizza-eating, West might have had something really special on his hands: a truly effective homage to grind-house horror. Instead, The House of the Devil proves to be a rather frustrating exercise in style over content.
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Classic suspense horror for true fans of the genre
freakinflax18 October 2009
I heard some good things about this film before viewing, and then on this site heard some bad things. I've come to believe that listening to others doesn't always help. It's all about opinion and experience, and in my opinion, this experience was worth it.

I won't get into too many details of the plot as the reviews and trailers tell it straight forward, but as far as tension, cinematography, atmosphere, music and style goes, this film really has it all. It's a classic story of your ordinary girl next door being put into an extraordinary situation. It's a situation that she tries to avoid, the people around her try to avoid, and you as a viewer knows she should avoid but can't help and stay to see what transpires.

If you're looking for a run of the mill slasher flick, a psychological thriller, or an action packed gore fest, I'm sorry but this isn't for you. However, if you're into the types of horror movies that take a simple, almost predictable concept and turns it on its' head in an unrelenting fashion, then look no further. This movie will stay with you for a few days for different reasons, but my biggest turn on was the feeling throughout the film, an homage to earlier times, and an evil that knows no bounds.
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Waste of my precious time
sleepingsunrise4 October 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Nothing happens for about an entire hour. She gets the babysitting job, and wonders around the house forever. Nothing interesting happens ubttil the last ten minutes and then it's your typical (and nonsense) Satanic ritual crap. She escapes and takes a moment to spit out some blood. And then they catch her again. Then she runs away again. Then it finally gets interesting with a chae through a cemetery and she supposedly shoots herself in the head. But then they cut to her in a hospital bed and somehow the ritual left her pregnant. I watched this because of all the awards it won. Well, it was mostly long, drawn out zoom in scenes.
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This one night changes everything for me.
hitchcockthelegend26 October 2015
Ti West seems destined to be one of those horror film directors who forever will polarise opinions. For those of us who love the slow burn approach and admire his evident adoration of retro horror, then he hits the mark. Reference The House of the Devil and latterly The Innkeepers. If those two things don't strike a chord with you then it's very likely that The House of the Devil will drive you nuts - but not in a good way.

Plot is simple, Jocelin Donahue plays student Samantha Hughes, who has found the ideal apartment to live in, but needs funds to pay the deposit. Sooooo, answering a flyer advertising for a babysitter, she winds up at some spooky house out in the sticks, where the job isn't exactly what was as expected, and, well the night isn't as expected either...

It's her own fault really, if you ring the bell at a spooky isolated house and Tom Noonan answers the door, well then you should know better than not to run away! But I digress. West's film taps into the satanic panic that gripped certain parts of the states in the 70s and 80s, set in the early 80s the film is a vibrant homage to that era, with a real sense of time and place pulsing away as Samantha is set up for a night of god knows what.

The house is a splendid old creaker and within it Samantha always looks to be one cat's whisker away from being in peril. West doesn't go for continuous boo-jump scares, he lets us and Samantha use our imaginations to unnerve all parties. The screw is slowly turned until hell comes to the party, moving things swiftly to a frenetic finale that closes with a final denouement that old nick himself would approve of.

Dee Wallace Stone does a cameo to add more to the retro flavours, while Noonan and Donahue are superb. It's a film that is patient and asks you for your patience, so those of that ilk, and retro horror hounds too, will love it. Others, not so! 7/10
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