The House of the Devil (2009) Poster

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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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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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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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Expertly done slow burner of a horror winner
Woodyanders30 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
1983. Struggling college student Samantha Hughes (an excellent and appealing portrayal by Jocelin Donahue) takes a high-paying gig looking after an elderly woman in a big old house located deep in the woods on the same night a lunar eclipse is occurring. Naturally, something sinister is afoot in said house.

Writer/director Ti West relates the absorbing story at a deliberate pace, offers a bang-up flavorsome evocation of the 80's period setting (the whole funky 80's aesthetic is spot-on right down to the clothes, music, and hairstyles), takes time to develop the hugely personable main character, adroitly crafts a supremely spooky and unsettling atmosphere that's rife with dread, tension, and unease, and pulls out the harrowing stops for the freaky, gruesome, and terrifying climax. The topflight cast rates as another substantial asset: Donahue radiates tremendous charm and vitality in the lead, Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov are perfect as the eccentric owners of the house, Greta Gerwig contributes a delightful turn as Samantha's spunky gal pal Megan, AJ Bowen makes a strong impression as brutish lackey Victor, and Dee Wallace has a nifty small part as a friendly landlady. Both Eliot Rockett's rough-hewn shadowy cinematography and Jeff Grace's gracefully shivery score are smack dead on the money. But it's the artful way West plays the slow game with a welcome emphasis on mood and people over excess gore and cheap scares that makes this frightfest so chillingly effective and satisfying.
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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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Dragging on and on...
paul_haakonsen18 May 2010
This horror movie was sort of alright, but at the same time it was a drag to get through. It just kept on going on and on, slowly building up some tension that never climaxed.

The good part of the movie was the set and scenery, which was quite alright. And there was a believable 80's atmosphere to the movie, so that was cool.

As for the bad part, well, the movie just kept going on and on in a slow pace, never really getting anywhere. There were lots of building up tension, but the thrills rarely came, and when they did, they were lukewarm.

The movie wasn't scary, and had no scenes that left you looking back over your shoulder in fright. However, there was one scene that made the entire movie worth sitting through for me, the scene where the friend was in the car and getting a light from some stranger. You didn't see that coming and BLAM! That was so awesome. I will not spoil it further, but this scene was great! The cast, well that part was alright. Had some semi-known people in the movie, people of whom you'd recognize their faces, but not their names - at least that was how it was for me. The acting was adequate, so that was not what made me movie suffer.

If you are into horror movies, this might not be one to bet your money on. Sure it is good for an evening of several horror movies, like a scare-a-thon, or something, but if you plan to watch a single movie and plan to get scared senseless, this is not the movie to go for.

Although the events portrayed in the movie were somewhat predictable, the movie wasn't all together shabby.
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one thing leads to another, step by step, in Ti West's slow-burner retro-horror
Quinoa198412 August 2010
The House of the Devil opens and ends with credits and title-cards out of the 1980's, but the strange thing is - and I know I'm going against the critical grain here - only some parts of the movie are extremely taken (or just are) from the 1980's. Maybe I haven't seen enough of those real 1980's slasher or just straight-up supernatural-devil horror movies. But with Ti West, he's a director that isn't some sort of schlock-master, or out for a cheap exploitation rip. At the same time, I don't think it has the sort of self-aware humor aspect that Rodriguez/Tarantino's Grindhouse had either. For a good lot of the time midway through this story, about a girl who needs money and takes a job for one night sitting an old lady she never sees at a house owned by a creepy guy (Tom Noonan) and his wife (Mary Wornov) and finds more than she bargained for with the HAIL Satan sort of thing... it's slow.

Now, this isn't to degrade the movie, at least too much. You have to stick with this movie to appreciate it, and it will be understandable if you don't. West isn't interested, at least until well into the film (like over an hour) for too many cheap, or just big and over the top, scares and chills and spills of blood. There is one huge exception to this, and you'll know it when you see it. But for the most part, the movie's about watching this girl, played by Jocelyn Donahue, who eats blah pizza, can't pay her rent bill on time, and when she is at the house sitting just wanders the halls, looks around, kind of idle, maybe playing her very 80's walk-man song ("One Thing Leads to Another" anyone? or perhaps the re-dub of the Cars' "Living in Stereo" over the opening creds is more your fancy).

So in other words, it is sort of a remake of those old-school scare movies from the 80's that you could find in the clamshell case as a videocassette; indeed West even released the film on VHS, the first time any movie has been so since 2006 when it was ceased for new movies. But it's not a remake in the sense that, say, last year's Sorority Girls or Prom Night was. It's rarely so stupid that it's meant for the bubble- gun popcorn movie audience at the mall. It really is more like, to use the over-used term, an 'art-house' horror flick. One may even want to compare it further back to Polanski's horror movies Repulsion and, of course, Rosemary's Baby, especially when it comes time for the Satanic rituals come to pass.

Around the climax is when some of the gore-hungry movie-lovers will get to finally have their cake. But until then, there is a lot of plodding around, and with that comes some really spooky, shot-in-blacks-and-grays cinematography Eliot Rockett, who uses this house to such great effect that you could feel like walking around it some more. That is, really, until West comes close to making it dull, which he does. There are other pleasures to compensate, however, such as Tom Noonan. Boy, you need someone to be creepy, go to him, until he's typecast. He plays his character with such a nice quality on the surface that you can't help but notice his character's nasty side just underneath. It's brilliant work that only gets so much screen time. There's also a supporting role for new mumble-core crossover Greta Gerwig, but she's given arguably less to do here than in other films.

So, gather up some fans of horror films that are looking for something different, for a brooding tale of the "girl going into the wrong house" tale we've seen many times before. This time, it's given another perspective, drenched in respect for its past genre, but also trying something a little more... patient. Think Jim Jarmusch walking into a haunted house and forced into 80's New Wave.
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Sympathy for (the house of) the Devil!
Coventry2 April 2011
Immediately after seeing "The Roost", his long-feature debut released in 2005, it became obvious that Ti West was a name horror fanatics had to keep an eye on. His attitude and ambitions towards the genre are exactly the right ones. Ti West didn't overwhelm the audience with fancy computerized splatter effects or convoluted story lines (it has to be said he also didn't had the budgetary means to accomplish this), but instead attempted to recreate a genuine 70's-like atmosphere of morbidity. With "The House of the Devil", he basically did the exact same thing, except of course that this particular film became a widely acclaimed cult hit whereas "The Roost" still remains obscure and unknown. "The House of the Devil" supposedly takes place in the early 80's, which is quite clever because that era had more practical advantages for horror filmmakers. The teenage protagonists were slightly less obnoxious than they are nowadays, they didn't had mobile phones and weren't talking about Facebook or YouTube the entire time. The story introduces Samantha Hughes, a financially struggling sophomore student who just rented a room in a dorm house and needs to come up with $300 by next Monday. She responds to a babysitting advert, but actually ends up in a creepy isolated mansion where the sinister owners, Mr. and Mrs. Ulman, confess that she actually won't be babysitting a child but a bedridden old lady. Samantha's common sense, as well as her best friend Megan, insist to leave the house as quick as possible, but the call of the money is too strong. Needless to say Samantha rapidly regrets her decision…

Admittedly "The House of the Devil" isn't the amazingly petrifying and long-awaited throwback to genuine 80's horror that some people around here claim, but it's definitely an admirable and rightly executed gem that proves there is still a lot of hope for the future of the genre. The first 75 minutes of the film are slow and uneventful, with the exception of one fantastic and totally unexpected shock-moment, but the atmosphere of uncanny and fright is continuously omnipresent. The finale is downright horrific and truly does catapult you straight back to the gritty and relentless satanic cult flicks from the mid-70's and early 80's. Sure the denouement is predictable and derivative, but nevertheless it's still effectively disturbing. Although requiring a lot of patience, the murders and make-up effects during the finale will certainly satisfy the more demanding horror freaks. During the first 75 minutes, Ti West assures us of his professional director skills through excellent photography, mood-setting and choice of music. The relatively unknown but beautiful lead actress Jocelin Donahue deserves a lot of praise as well. She's obviously a lot more talented than your average teen-slasher scream queen. Ti West could also rely on two respectable genre veterans to depict the interesting roles of Mr. and Mrs. Ulman, namely Tom Noonan ("Manhunter") and Mary Woronov ("Eating Raoul"). The House of the Devil" certainly comes with my recommendation, just don't expect to see the biggest and most innovative horror movie of the century.
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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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Throw-back old school horror.
michaelRokeefe15 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Ti West directs this horror flick that definitely simmers before kicking into some frightening stuff. Samantha(Jocelin Donahue)is a sweet, struggling coed that has some trouble with the rent on her new apartment. Desperately in the need for some extra bucks, she takes on a one night babysitting job that will pay her serious money. A strange Mr. Ulman(Tom Noonan)wants someone to stay in the house with his elderly mother-in-law for the night. Samantha's loud and rambunctious best friend Megan(Greta Gerwig)advises her to not take the job in order to help her celebrate the evening's lunar eclipse. Samantha needs the cash; but she doesn't deserve what is in store for her in the creepy Ulman home. Supporting cast includes: Heather Robb, John Speredakos, Mary Woronov, Dee Wallace and Danielle Noe.
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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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A House Where Not Much Happens
Theo Robertson23 March 2014
Some people have mentioned this feels very much like a 1980s horror film and even in the film's own context it touches upon the decade by stating that 70% of Americans believed in ritual Satanic abuse . Would this include Satanic sexual abuse too ? The idea of Satanic sexual abuse spread like wildfire in the latter part of the decade due to a clique of so called experts saying they had evidence and what its symptoms were which led to many people being arrested and accused but as the claims became more outlandish no evidence whatsoever that it existed was proved and Satanic sexual abuse quickly disappeared from the headlines but not before lives were destroyed in a witch hunt and testimony once again that so called self appointed experts should always be challenged . I shouldn't also have to point out that just because a large percentage of people believe something it doesn't make something correct . I digress

With a title like THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and the opening caption I thought I might be watching some American equivalent of a Dennis Wheatley story about all manner of creepy getting together to sacrifice a virgin in a moon lit field . This isn't how the movie plays out . As it happens a young female student needing money agrees to babysit for a man . Perhaps the fact that he's paying well over the odds might have set her spidey senses tingling but hey we're all slaves to money to a degree .She sits in the house listening to her I-pod and ... well that's most of the film . Nothing much happens and while it deserves some credit for not descending in to seen it all before cliché one would have preferred a much more incident driven story
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The House of the Devil
Scarecrow-8815 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
My own opinion of Ti West's cult hit, The House of the Devil might not adhere to the praise it has been getting over the last year. The buzz for the movie really picked up late last year. How West was able to evoke the 80's so well. For me, the movie is rather uneventful for nearly one hour and ten minutes, exploding with violence as the heroine attempts to free herself from the clutches of Satanists, something inside her causing inner torment. The plot centers on a pretty college girl so desiring to secure an apartment and needing some quick cash to pay the deductible. Jocelin Donahaue, in a star-making Jamie Lee Curtis type of role, is Samantha, agreeing reluctantly to "babysit" a creepy couple's mom while they are off making plans as a lunar eclipse is on the horizon. The couple are played by wonderfully cast(and in it ALL TOO SHORT)Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov who reek of sinister, as the Ulmans(..who'd give the Addams family a run for their money in the "gothic weird" department).

Most of the movie has Samantha keeping herself together during a mundane night with little entertaining to do..and here lies my problem, we, along with her, are waiting for something to happen as well. I can't complain about spending 85 minutes with Jocelin Donahue, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was yearning for something exciting to drag my interest into the movie. With so little Noonan and Woronov to enjoy, and watching Donahue looking throughout the house over and over again, I, for one, got a little weary. And, interesting enough, the film is about 30 minutes in before Samantha even meets Noonan for the first time. I appreciated the homage to movies Ti West grew up with. And the photography, music, score(the end is reminiscent of The Shining), and cast all assist West in achieving successfully the look of the period he wishes to present to us. I like the understated approach as opposed to how another director might plunge us into something way over-the-top(..which wouldn't be a bad thing, either, but so many horror filmmakers opt for this method instead of West's style), but, that said, I need something to hold my interest besides an attractive girl in tight jeans. Greta Gerwig is Samantha's friend, Megan, and AJ Bowen is Victor, the Ulmans' psychopathic son. The House of the Devil takes a page out of the occult Satan pictures, particularly in the finale. If you love movies which follow a girl as she searches out an old house, then this flick might just be up your alley.
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An admirable effort for writer / director / editor Ti West.
Hey_Sweden11 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It's become a popular thing for filmmakers nowadays to go for a "retro" feel to their horror movies, which I, as a person who came of age in the mid-1980's and experienced the horror films of that time, can fully appreciate. It's always a nice thing when one sees a film made FOR horror fans and BY horror fans, and that proves to be the case with Ti West's "The House of the Devil". Described by some as a "slow burner", it takes a more traditional approach to its scares, drawing out the suspense (although it can be argued that the film draws it out too much) and parcelling out the gore carefully until the finale. An appealing Jocelin Donahue, who resembles the young Brooke Adams, plays Samantha, a sophomore college student looking for her own place, and finding one, but needing to come up with some cash fairly quickly for the first months' rent. An advertisement for a babysitting gig posted on campus seems too good to be true - and of course it is; the warning bells already start sounding when we see the people needing the service are played by the wonderful veterans Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov, who have played their fair share of cinematic villains. Only the climactic action comes off as somewhat disappointing, as for this viewer it was too reminiscent of sequences seen in earlier horror films to be particularly effective. But West, to his credit, still manages to create some delicious atmosphere and uneasiness. Around half an hour or so of screen time features Donahue more or less on her own, and exploring her environment. It takes a very watchable performer to help keep the viewers' attention, and Donahue pulls it off, perfectly embodying an endearing amount of inexperience and lack of guile - although it's the fact that she's so trusting AND trustworthy that leads to her downfall. Noonan and Woronov are a delight to watch, as always, and the briefly seen Greta Gerwig is a hoot as Donahue's cheerfully obnoxious - yet loyal - pal. Ever likable Dee Wallace is wasted, however, in a small role that could have been played by just about any actress. In any event, West proves himself a talent to watch with this movie and it may make one want to check out more of his work. In closing, as part of that early 80's ambiance, it IS nice to hear such songs from that period as "One Thing Leads to Another" by The Fixx and "The Breakup Song" by the Greg Kihn band. Seven out of 10.
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Flawed but Fine Indie Horror…Thoughtful Throwback
LeonLouisRicci27 August 2014
Much Acclaim should be given to Director/Writer/Editor Ti West, and has been, in the Impeccable Recreation of Eighties Mood, Fashion, and Tone. His Homage to the Horror Films of that Decade is Mounted Extremely Well. Now Moving On.

The Film Forgets that those Films were Not Anemic for the Whole First Half, Slow Burning to a Blood Drenched Climax. The Fact that Virtually Nothing Happens for the Longest of Time Detracts from Audience Enjoyment and the Effort being Made to Make Everything Look Like the Time Period.

Suspense, Yes is Built Up with Anticipation but there Must be Periods of Relief from that Tension so the Movie can Proceed to Build it Up Again and Release that Pent Up Feeling with Something, Anything. The Movie seems to be OK with Not Unleashing those Releases as it Clunks Along with Occasional Interest Until About Mid-Point.

The Second Half is Much Better but does have a Few Mysterious Missteps. For Example, a Shot Behind a Closed Door that is Unexplained and Confusing. But there is Enough Professionalism at Play here and Given the Low Budget and 3 Week Shoot, the Result is a Flawed if Fine Excursion into Retro-Land that is Worth a Watch.

It is Not Very Smooth and Demands a Laid-Back Throwback of Concern to be Enjoyed Thoroughly. But it is a Commendable Effort Overall and has a lot of Indie Exceptionalism and a Thought Process that is Absent in Franchise Horror of the 2000's.
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I thought it one of the most boring films I have seen in ages.
poolandrews15 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The House of the Devil is set in West Virginia where University student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) is looking to rent her own house, unfortunately Samantha is broke & decides to try & make some money by answering an advert for a babysitter. Samantha phones the number on the flier but no-one answers, then a few hours later a man calls back & ask's to meet her outside her University to discuss the job but he never turns up. The man calls again & apologises & says that he still needs a babysitter & if she can get to his house then she has the job, desperate for money Samantha agrees & has her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) drive her to a large house standing isolated in some woods near a graveyard. Samantha is greeted by Mr (Tom Noonan) & Mrs. Ulman (Mary Wolonov) who confess that they actually need Samantha to look after Mr's Ulman's ageing mother & offer her $400 for a few hours work to which Samantha can't say no but she soon discovers that things aren't what they seem & the creepy Ulman's have ulterior motives for luring her there...

Edited, written & directed by Ti West who also has a small role in the film as the 'Favourite Teacher' this low budget retro style horror film has a certain buzz around it with many citing it as some sort of modern classic, far be it from me to swim against the tide of popular opinion but I thought The House of the Devil was one of the most boring films I can remember seeing in quite some time. I simply don't understand what other's see in The House of the Devil, I am not slating or criticising anyone for liking it as it all comes down to personal opinion & taste but I honestly just can't understand why so many people like this. I keep hearing how The House of the Devil is based on the look & feel of horror films from the 80's but I just didn't see it, just because the main character's listens to a Walkman for a few minutes doesn't mean I am convinced it's the 80's. Then there's the boring & routine script, there's no imagination here & the so-called twist at the end is given away by both the title & the pre-credit text that states some obscure fact about Devil worshipping in the US. You know exactly where The House of the Devil is going & quite frankly it takes absolutely ages to get there, there's a sequence about halfway through the film which felt like it lasted for hour's where Samantha just wanders around the old creepy house by herself in silence & I was at there hoping something would happen & I didn't mind what, just something. Then there's the Ulman's plan, it seems to revolve a drugged Pizza, all I can think of is what if Samantha wasn't hungry? What if she didn't want Pizza? What if she phoned another Pizza establishment up than the one Mr. Ulman hints at? The whole idea seems so vague & relies on the randomness of Samantha phoning for a takeaway Pizza & then eating it. At just under 85 minutes (the end credits last for over 6 minutes) The House of the Devil feels longer, sure I like build-up as much as anyone else but I want it to go somewhere, I want to be surprised or thrilled or shocked or captivated by what I am seeing but The House of the Devil just bored me to tears. The House of the Devil feels like it's taking great effort to build it's story & character's & sure takes it's time doing so but ends up doing nothing with what it sets-up & when all said & done it's rather forgettable & doesn't amount to much at all.

I have heard some say that if The House of the Devil was actually made in the 80's it would be considered a classic now, well actually if The House of the Devil was made in the 80's it would have been released by the likes of Troma & be rightly criticised for it's lack of originality, it's tameness, it's predictability & the minutes at a time when absolutely nothing happens. Nothing of any great note happens for ages, a woman is shot in a car & then nothing else happens until the last ten minutes where there's some minor gore including a slit throat & some blood splatter. The film is competent & looks nice enough but is bland & dull.

Filmed in Connecticut the production values are decent enough. The acting is alright, Dee Wallace has a small role as does Tom Noonan & Mary Woronov who are wasted in nothing roles.

The House of the Devil is a film I just don't get, it seems to be quite well liked amongst certain circles but I thought it was pretty awful & one of the dullest & boring films I've sat through recently.
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Note perfect recreation of an late 1970's early 1980's horror film is a note perfect horror film in its own bloody right
dbborroughs16 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Ti West hit pay dirt and comes up blood soaked with this note perfect homage to late 1970's or early 1980's horror films. Having lived through the period and seen countless of the films he's copying I'm telling you he got it dead on perfect, and best of all its a scary movie in its own right.

The plot, which I'm going to tell as briefly and non-spoiler filled as possible, has a college student taking a job for a babysitter. Unfortunately the job isn't as a babysitter its actually to watch the mother of an older couple so that they can go out on the night of a lunar eclipse. Let's just understate things by saying things go horribly wrong from there. (I won't say more since some of the promo material, the local cable operator's description on the pay per view service reveals too much. Though to be honest because of who plays some characters you can kind of guess bits of where things are going) A slow building tension coils up until the explosion at the end which leaves everyone and everything blood soaked. Its a corker of the sort no one does any more. Not because the plots were bad its just that in the hands of hack filmmakers the material was down graded. West's handling of the material is as perfect as they come, and while it doesn't do anything new, except maybe in the volume of blood, it takes a well worn plot and makes it look perfect and new.

Can you tell I really liked this? Part of it is the nostalgia, both of the time shown and of the movies it copies (down to the music and credit lettering); mostly I love the film because its a damn good horror film. Where is the drive-in movie when you need one.

Highly recommended (Rob Zombie should be jealous)
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House of boredom
lastliberal19 June 2010
I cannot believe the praise for this movie. I must have really missed it, as I found it to be a total bore.

The first 70 minutes was a real snooze-fest as Sam the babysitter (Jocelin Donahue) just spends time walking around the house, ordering pizza, and breaking a vase.

There is never any clue to indicate that anything abnormal is going on.

The action, when it finally came, was brief and unrealistic. How could anyone believe that they wouldn't tie her so she could not escape.

And what about the ending. Totally unsatisfying.

This isn't any classic from the 80s, it is not worth your time.
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Scary good homage to '80s horror films; genuinely creepy!
george.schmidt2 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) *** Jocelyn Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace, Heather Robb. Chillingly affective homage/valentine to cheapie indie horror films of the'80s, filmmaker Ti West evokes echoes of Carpenter, Raimi and Corman in this spooky haunted house tale about a pressed-for-money co-ed (plucky Everywoman Donahue who comes across as a gorgeous amalgam of Jessica Harper, Karen Allen & Brooke Adams) who answers an ad on campus for a babysitting gig that turns out to be more than what it actually is soliciting. West's shrewd, topsy-turvy, skewed camera angles (wonderfully concocted by cinematographer Eliot Rockett), sharp editing skills and a truly nerve-shredding scored by Jeff Grace keeps the scary atmosphere at full-throttle even by its predictable final act of bloody good genre jolts. A true find and flair for the game of showing less-is-more-journeyman film-making and also what you don't see is far-more unsettling than what is shown.
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Start and Finished with a Whimper
view_and_review17 September 2021
Perhaps one of the most boring and unentertaining "horror" movies I've ever watched. It took roughly 35 minutes before anything of note happened. That would be fine if there were 35 minutes of worthwhile footage prior to the little bit of action, but there wasn't.

Taking place in the early to mid-80's, a college student named Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) just agreed to rent a new place, but she didn't quite have the money. In attempt to make the money needed for the first and last month's rent she took a babysitting job. The job was in a rural this-is-where-bad-things-happen part of the state. Her employers, Mr. And Mrs. Ullman (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), seemed creepy, but not creepy enough to turn down $400 for a night's work. And wouldn't you know? They had bad intentions.

The only aspect of this movie worth mentioning was the authentic 80's look and feel to the film. It was as if they filmed it with 1980's equipment. But that wasn't enough to save this movie. The brief action at the end--having something to do with the lunar eclipse--hardly justified everything else I'd watched. This movie started with no energy and ended with the same whimper it began with.
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Entertaining horror throwback
zetes7 February 2010
A small horror film that wants to pretend it was made in the early '80s. Fine with me. Director Ti West's attempts to make an '80s horror flick are mostly successful. The story is pretty simple: a college girl (Jocelin Donahue) responds to an ad for babysitting. When she gets to the house, she finds the people weird. Furthermore, they tell her she's actually "babysitting" an elderly woman, not a child. Donahue needs the money and accepts the weirdness at face value. Of course, the real motive is that these people are Satanists and they need a new victim. Not much happens, but it gets a ton of mileage out of the protagonist being in this creepy, dark old house and not knowing what's in the basement or the attic. When the real action does start, it's pretty awesome. I would say that it ends too abruptly. I think one of the major reasons I enjoyed it so much, besides the cool '80s aesthetic (the opening titles are a real hoot) is Jocelin Donahue. Wow, this gal is adorable. And a good actress to boot. I sincerely hope she hits the big time soon.
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takes a while but the end is excellent
trashgang26 February 2010
Over here the movie isn't available but will be soon so after all the positive reactions there was no other choice than to get it from the good old US of A. Was it worth it, well for me the hype is a bit exaggerated but still it's a worth seeing. Be sure that there will be pro's and contras to this flick, why, because it's an ode to the 70's exploitation movies. Some say 80's but for me it isn't, it isn't a slasher. When you start the DVD the credits that appear make you immediately think of the exploitation era. Even the color of that era was used. The end credits, same again so you know that you are watching a slow flick were everything happens at the end. On the credits one name attracted me, Graham Reznick. The guy that helped me get his flick I Can See You, here as second unit and responsible for the score. And yes, that flick was a slow starter too. Both, he and the director Ti West were involved in The Roost, one I have seen too so somewhere those guys are my kind of movie makers. But still, I hoped that it would deliver something more than what I have seen, but maybe I was tricked by the hype and reviews. Still, it's for the geeks out there...
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"It's Very Simple! It Wouldn't Take Much Of Your Time!"... "Here We Go!"...
azathothpwiggins13 January 2020
Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a college student who is trying to get her own place off campus. She secures the house, but is desperately short of funds. After some strange occurrences lead her to a babysitting job, Samantha figures she still has a chance of escaping her current, slob-of-a roommate. Of course, nothing is as it appears to be. When Samantha arrives at the home, the macabre, dreadful fun begins!

Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is a slow-building, ultimately gruesome / shocking throwback film. West perfectly captures the look and feel of the 1980's, then, ups the satanic factor slowly until he hits utter chaos and nightmare mode, for the frenzied finale!

Ms. Donahue is great as the unwary one, drawn into the increasingly dark unknown. Greta Gerwig is also good as Samantha's goofy friend, Megan.

However, it's Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov who steal the whole, devilish show! Noonan is imposing and enigmatic, but Ms. Woronov is absolutely menacing! Having seen her in many of her more off-beat, humorous roles, it's wonderful to witness her being so disturbing and scary!

Some have dismissed this film as being "boring". Well, it's not, though it does demand our attention, and rewards it generously...
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Satan's dark delight.
HumanoidOfFlesh4 March 2010
"The House of the Devil" is about a college sophomore who takes up a babysitting opportunity in an isolated Victorian house,but things start to go extremely wrong when she finds out that she's not really there to babysit and when she hears strange noises coming from the upstairs.Ti West's nostalgic debut plays like a homage to 80's low-budget horror and 70's Satanic shockers like "The Omen" or "Devil's Rain" with its slow pace and very retro building of the story.The cinematography is grainy and there are some effective scares.There is very little gore but there are disturbing scenes involving satanic sacrifices and blood consumption.It's nice to see horror veterans Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov in tightly written roles.8 out of 10.
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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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