The House of the Devil
Updated: Oct 8, 2021
The 317th review!
I decided the time was right and I have once again gotten the streaming service Shudder. I've noticed that Netflix' horror selection has really gone down in quality as the years have gone by so it's been harder to find good movies to watch. Today's film is one I've seen on occasion and when I'd go to watch it, it would disappear from that streaming service. But thanks to Shudder I was finally able to check out...
The House of the Devil (2009)
A young college student desperate to escape her roommate due to her messiness and frequent banging finds an apartment to live in. Problem is, she doesn't have the money yet. Samantha then comes across a flier with the words "Baby$itter Wanted" followed by a phone number. After the man ghosts her, they eventually are able to talk and she agrees to the job. Problem is, when she gets to the big, remote house the man she spoke to on the phone informs her she wouldn't be babysitting a child, but an older woman. Naturally she declines but when he offers her 400-money instead of the original 100, she agrees.
The friend who brought her there, Megan is very much against it. She tries to convince Samantha to get in the car and leave, but Sam isn't having it, she really needs the money. Megan reluctantly agrees and says she'll be back at 12:30 AM to pick her up. Megan isn't in it much, but she's a highlight for me. She is the ultimate ride-or-die and definitely someone you want in your corner. As you may have guessed by now, Megan was right and Samantha finds herself doing battle with a family of Satanists with evil intentions.
This movie was made in 2009 but it takes place in the 80's, and watching it, it definitely looks and feels like a movie from the late 70's or early 80's. The director, Ti West, used the same equipment and techniques they used back then and it's a really nice touch. While yesterday's movie, Fear Street, did everything it could, like inorganically throwing songs from the 90's everywhere as a way of saying, "Hey, in case you forget, this takes place in the 90's? Didn't get that? No? Oh well, here's 'Machinehead' by Bush. Enjoy!" On the other hand, The House of the Devil really seems like a movie from that era.
This movie is a very slow burn but it's done in the most perfect way possible. Shortly after Samantha arrives at the house and the older couple leave, there's a very shocking murder that really took me by suprise. From there, not much happens for the longest time. It's mostly Samantha exploring the house and passing the time. It may sound boring, but that murder really puts you on edge. After that happens, you know immediately Samantha is in real danger and no matter how normal everything seems to her in that house, you're just waiting for something to pop out and attack her while she's completely oblivious. Plus, while she never sees the older woman she's supposed to be watching, you can hear footsteps and creaks on occasion to remind you that there's something in there with her. It's extremely well done.
The House of the Devil does unease extremely well. The whole movie has a sense of dread
from the very beginning. Even when she's palling around with Megan or wasting time on campus, something just seems off. To be honest, I was more invested and unsettled when nothing was happening as opposed to when things were finally put into motion.
It's weird, this movie takes so long to build to its moment, and when it gets there, it happens really quick. I don't want to give anything away but when everything is revealed, it's over pretty fast. There's little to no cat-and-mouse games, it's actually one of the shorter scenes in the movie, but does give you a few "Take that!" moments as she's fighting back.
The ending though is a pretty wild one. As far as horror heroines go, Samantha is pretty great. Not only does she handle herself well, but at the end when she realizes what they've done and what it means, she doesn't hesitate. She figures out how to beat their Kobayashi Maru and does it right in front of one of the baddies. It's a jaw dropping moment and how quickly she makes the decision is pretty badass.
But, it's an independent horror movie... I keep going back and forth on how I feel about the final scene. I think ending it after she beats them would have been the more satisfying ending, but I understand why they went the route they did, even if it really makes no sense how the movie got to that point. In case you're wondering, yes I am being as vague as possible because I don't want it spoiled. This movie doesn't get talked about much and it's a shame because it's really good. I've never felt so much unease and dread while nothing happens for such a sustained period of time.
8 Dr. Chainsaws!
The House of the Devil
1 h 35 min2010R A man lures a babysitter to a house with an unusually large sum of money.
Directors: Ti West
Horror Rating: R (Restricted)
Content advisory: Foul language, violence, drug use