Movie Review: The House of the Devil (2009)

Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil

Photo: Magnet Releasing

Some early online buzz piqued my interest enough to check out Ti West’s The House of the Devil, a horror film I went into assuming it was a throwback haunted house tale, but that’s not really the case. While the film is a throwback to 1980s horror it is very light on scares and rushes its final act after slow-playing it for nearly an hour. It would probably serve as a decent diversion if you are home alone one night, but if you get more than one person in a room the pacing on this one is likely to bore you to the point where sideways glances will result in one of you saying, “This is pretty dumb.”

The film centers on Sam played by Jocelin Donahue, an actress that fits the description of most every Hollywood twenty-something, but she does well enough in her part considering she was given very little to do until the late going. Sam, is hard up for cash and hopes to get out of her college dorm, but is light on the funds needed to secure an apartment. So when an ad appears looking for a babysitter to take care of a creepy old man’s mother she manages to up her fee to the point she is unable to turn it down, but shortly thereafter she’ll wish she had.

Tom Noonan (Heat) plays the creepy old man, but his appearance and the appearance of his wife (Mary Woronov) serve as nothing more than your standard horror moment encouraging the audience to say, “Those two are creepy, I wouldn’t stay there.” All while the characters in the film say, “Sure, I’ll take your money and care for your freaky mother.” It’s pretty much by-the-book and as things wind down, if you have seen a film of this sort before you will see the ending coming from a mile away.

Using a lunar eclipse as the timeline and a satanic ritual for its scares, The House of the Devil is one of those horrors that offers very little in the way of surprises outside of a single gunshot wound to the head that really had me expecting big things, but was ultimately let down from that point on.



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