The House of the Devil

Ti West has been on the tip of the tongues as the next wunderkind by people obsessed with film (some people would call them critics… bah! I call them crazies!). He has been touted as the next big thing for a couple of years now. But I have always avoided his films because he makes primarily horror films. Now that I am no longer scared of putting on a horror film, I have decided this is the perfect chance for me to watch his films. I started with the film that got everyone talking: the House of the Devil. Set in the early eighties, a young woman seeks a baby sitting job that seems to be bad news from the beginning. Blinded by the considerable amount of money she is getting for just a couple of hours of work, she overlooks several obvious indicators that this family is not what it seems. It all culminates in a sequence that is hard to get out of your head. I cannot stand a film that is full of cheap jumps and thrills throughout the whole film. When a film is too busy trying to scare you, it skimps on character, plot line and even sometimes visuals. This film is the opposite. It is considered a slow burner. Most of the film is spent with the young woman outside of the doomed house. You see her excitement at possibly getting her first apartment, her crushing realization that she is broke and her desperation to get out of her dorm room hell. With each detail that West flushes out, you can see her motivations and choices become as obvious as possible. I too would ignore the sketchy situation that she got stuck with if I was offered as much money as she did for only a couple of hours of work. Spending so much time with her makes what happen to her even more horrific than if we were just watching a bunch of monsters jump out at her. In fact what happens to her made me have nightmares afterward. (Suggestion: do NOT fall asleep with this playing. It is not a good idea if you like to have pleasant dreams.) Mr. West seemed to have gotten everything right with this film. He augments the story with fabulous imagery, period costumes, and swelling music. Somehow he makes cheesy eighties songs that I have heard millions of times before fraught with tension. I will never think of “One Thing Leads to Another” in the same way ever again. I would say that Mr. West’s hype is well deserved off of this one film. I will review the Innkeepers soon (it just got put on Netflix instant… Score!), hopefully it is just as good as this film was.

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