Monday, March 15, 2010
The House Of The Devil (2009)
Before I start my review, I need to point out that while Peter and Vanessa have been burning up the boards, you'll note that there are still some un-bolded quotes below if you wanted to try your hand at some of the unanswered quotes from the 90's movie quiz As Rocky would say: Go for it!
Anyhow, I have to really admire Ti West's craftsmanship in recreating to a "T" a horror movie that could have come from straight from the late seventies/early eighties. To me, at least, it becomes even more fantastic when I checked over at IMDB, and, sure enough he doesn't turn 30 until October of this year. I don't know why that is, but it just seems like someone who has immersed himself in early eighties cheapie horror/slasher films, as West clearly has, I would have pegged that person at being at least 5 to 10 years older. That doesn't diminish what he's done here. He has recreated, not parodied, a cheaply done horror film from a very specific time period, one that very well could have been caught on early HBO, or even Elvira, or USA's Up All Night when we were growing up. It really is pretty amazing, right down to the film stock chosen to create that very particular look. And, I feel like I need to emphasize the fact that it never feels like a parody. But more of a recreation, if that makes sense. Like unearthing some lost horror gem that people sort of remember from staying up late at night growing up in the eighties. So how does it work as a scary movie? Up until the finale where everything goes nuts, its pretty much a study in the slow burn. Before it goes off the rails in a way that seems fitting, it really is a study in setting the mood. The lone babysitter out in the middle of the woods, stuck in a big empty house? Check, check, and check. Its definitely creepy. Ti West also seems like he is really good at setting and sustaining a consistent mood of dread. The thing is you almost have to watch it as a product of a different time. If you go in looking for horror tropes from more modern horror movies, it probably won't work. But if you turn off the lights and think back to watching some old school, VHS , cheapie horror movie-I think it adds to the enjoyment. Because up until the end, this is definitely more slow moving than something you might find today. For a fun, little, sort of weird, thriller, it does its job. I can't wait to see what Ti West does next. I have to say though, the cast, while not large is memorable, of course Jocelyn Donahue as the babysitter is really good. It was nice to see Dee Wallace. But the creepy cake has got to go to Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov as the owners of the old house.