June 27, 2012

The House of the Devil (2009)

"In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbour a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual."

I don't know what it is about "The House of the Devil" which causes me to fall asleep every time I try to watch it but the same thing happened three times in a row last night. Eventually I gave up and went to bed. Not to be beaten by it, I watched the second half of the DVD as soon as I woke up this morning.

Having battled with this movie many times on Netflix, my only explanation for its soporific effect on me is that it's boring as can be. For at least the first hour, it's all very slow with no atmosphere. It could just be the story of any girl, past, present or future, who goes to a college in New York state and takes a babysitting job to pay her rent.

It's all talk with droning American voices plus lots of shots of old wooden sheds which upstate New Yorkers laughably refer to as houses. This is no different to what I wake up to every day. It's all blandness and drudgery, but it's not horror.

If I hadn't read the three paragraph introduction to "The House of the Devil" which flashed up on screen before the opening titles, I honestly wouldn't have known that it was supposed to be set in the 1980s. Nothing looks any different now in New York state (or even Connecticut which was where this was actually filmed) compared to 30 years ago. I would guess that most of it isn't much different to 50 or 60 years ago either especially when it comes to the cars, not having light switches beside the doors to rooms, or eating bad pizza. Ti West documented these things really well but disguised them as a horror movie.

Nothing really happens in "The House of the Devil" until, as the pretentious critics call it, "the third reel". Then it's just like every other "unwilling Satanic sacrifice" movie complete with an escape scene which, in fairness, is pretty well done and doesn't have as many stupid decisions made by the victim as some others.

I must admit that Jocelin Donahue is quite nice to look at and plays a good part. Her character, Samantha, just isn't very likeable but is certainly less irritating than her friend, Megan (played by Greta Gerwig). I wouldn't want either of them in my house though.

Having never bought into the fanboy appreciation of "The House of the Devil" on the various forums, the only thing which I can think of which makes up for the dullness of the rest of it are that the kill scenes are rather satisfying. The tacked-on hospital scene epilogue should have been left off though. It should have ended with Tom Noonan's cries of "No, no, no!"

I don't really recommend "The House of the Devil" because it's sort of weird in a not very good way and fails in its attempt to be cleverer than it actually is. I haven't seen any of Ti West's other movies, "Cabin Fever 2", "The Innkeepers" or "V/H/S", and I really have no desire to now either.

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