The House Of The Devil (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/03/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Impressively directed with impeccable production design, this is a note-perfect pastiche of a 1980s horror film that's both suspenseful and scary without resorting to cheap tricks.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ti West, The House of the Devil is set sometime in the 1980s and stars Jocelin Donahue as cash-strapped student Samantha, who needs to come up with a $300 deposit so she can move into a new house, away from her slovenly college roommate (Heather Robb). Encouraged by her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig), Sam accepts a baby-sitting job in a creepy-looking house owned by the equally creepy-looking Mr Ulman (Tom Noonan) and his even more creepy-looking wife Mrs Ulman (Mary Woronov). What could possibly go wrong? (Hint: there's a clue in the title.)

The Good
The House of the Devil is a note-perfect pastiche of a 1980s horror film. As such, the production design work is impeccable, from the synth-heavy soundtrack to the look of the cinematography, the credits sequence (complete with freeze-frame) and the 1980s wardrobe; hell, even lead actress Jocelin Donahue bears a strong resemblance to a young Margot Kidder.

The performances are excellent too. Donahue makes an appealing lead and Gerwig delivers a likeable turn as Megan, while West has fun filling the supporting adult roles with ‘80s horror actors such as Woronov (Eating Raoul), Wallace (The Howling) and Noonan (Manhunter).

The Great
Strangely, The House of the Devil's biggest strength can also be seen as its biggest problem: apart from a single terrifying moment early on, the majority of the film focuses on Sam just padding around the house, listening to her ever-present Walkman, watching TV, ordering a pizza, raiding the fridge and so on. In other words, you're constantly expecting something horrible but absolutely nothing happens for so long that it's simultaneously boring and incredibly suspenseful - you don't even realise you're wound so tight until the pizza arrives, at which point you jump out of your seat.

With that in mind, be assured that West clearly knows what he's doing and that the climax, when it finally arrives, is genuinely scary. You'll never baby-sit for a creepy-looking couple in a creepy-looking house again.

Worth seeing?
Suspenseful, beautifully made and genuinely scary, The House of the Devil is a brilliantly directed horror flick with a terrific performance from Jocelin Donahue. A must-see for horror fans. Highly recommended.

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The House Of The Devil (18)
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Content updated: 24/10/2017 01:23

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