The House of the Devil builds up the suspense towards a shockingly brilliant ending.
The House of the Devil is an occult supernatural horror film that heavily relies on suspense, a foreboding atmosphere and a nostalgic throwback to the early eighties. The film really does take you back to the era of satanic fright with the soundtrack, the coloring, the cinematography, the set design and art decoration, in short, the whole vibe and feel of the film almost tricks you in making you believe it was made in the eighties. With the focus on suspense, it starts out slow, but builds up the tension towards an amazing bloody crazy finale that you won’t see coming.
It’s a film that you will enjoy most if you know very little about it, then the surprise and creepiness will have its full effect. This review contains ver minor spoilers.
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Samantha Hughes desperately wants to rent her own apartment to be able to concentrate on her studies, which is nearly impossible in her dorm. Her rich friend Megan offers her money, but Sam wants to do it on her own and takes a babysitting job that pays a considerably high fee. When Megan drives her up to the isolated mansion, she is told she has to babysit an old mother who’s is bedridden, instead of a child. Megan thinks it’s all too weird and wants to leave and take Sam with her, again offering her money. But Sam says she will be fine and accepts the job. But of course there’s a catch and with a moon eclipse that night, anything can happen.
Why you should watch it
The House of the Devil does really make you relive the eighties. Everything radiates that era and you often forget it’s a contemporary film and not made in the eighties. It’s a wonderful trip down memory lane and the nostalgic feel is very consistent even till the surprising twist.
It starts out slow, building up the suspense. She’s all alone in the big mansion, with an old woman upstairs. She orders pizza, she dances around the house with her Walkman, but there’s always that unnerving feeling that something is not right. We know already, for we saw a gruesome murder earlier, but Sam isn’t aware of anything dangerous. It’s like watching her dance and relax towards her own doom.
It’s all about atmosphere, creating a tense, ominous vibe that is ever present but neither the audience nor Sam has any clue of what that danger might be. This is very much increased by the great camera shots and angles, dark corridors and shadows, and the feel of an enormous empty dark house. It’s very cleverly done, to keep you guessing on the edge of your seat, without anything really happening. It’s like expecting something scary behind every door or corner. But there never is. That is, until the end. Also the idea that an old woman is upstairs, is a little bit creepy too. Like there’s a secret hidden upstairs. The big mansion with all the rooms, the absence of light and also very isolated, is enough to be unsettling for the most of us.
The end is a brilliant sequence of satanic mayhem and gore and really shakes everything up. It feels like a totally different film, but in the best way possible. The vibe and atmosphere makes a total switch towards an occult slasher that is amazingly shot and creates a sudden chaos after the quiet stay in the house. If you love such an extreme turn of events, then you will love this.
The House of the Devil is an ode to the eighties, but although it has a nostalgic feel and cinematography, it does feel fresh and new. The original ending is the cherry on the pie and creates a wonderful mashup of the supernatural, the occult, a slasher and great suspense, shot in an intense and great way. This film is an absolute joy to watch. It’s thrilling, scary, fun and with a very likable Sam who carries the film in a fresh and pleasant way, it never feels slow or tedious. And definitely not with a brilliant amazing ending like this one has.
My favorite part
Without spoiling it, I loved the ending. The buildup towards it, makes you feel that something terrible is coming, but when it comes, you have never expected it to be that. It’s like a very long ride in a rollercoaster that is only ascending and then it’s all the way down, short and sweet. But there’s also a brilliant little scene that is a good predictor of what you can expect. It comes out of nowhere and is cause for a good fright. It’s a little warning that this film might look slow and full of suspense, but that it has a little twist and a big surprise in store for us.
Gore factor: ★★★★☆
Thrill factor: ★★★★☆
Scare factor: ★★★☆☆
Nostalgic factor: ★★★★★
Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertaining factor: ★★★★★
Cast and crew
The House of the Devil is directed and written by Ti West. It stars Jocelin Donahue (Samantha), Greta Gerwig (Megan), Tom Noonan (Mr. Ulman) and Mary Woronov (Mrs. Ulman).
Duration: 95 minutes. Music: Jeff Grace. Cinematography: Eliot Rockett. Edited by: Ti West. Produced by: Josh Braun, Larry Fessenden, Roger Kass, Peter Phok. Production company: Constructovision, Ring TheJig Entertainment, Glass Eye Pix. Distributed by: MPI Media Group, Dark Sky Films, Gorgon Video.