Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The House of the Devil" makes for good nostalgia

There was a time when horror films were much more subtle than they are today.  They relied heavily on tension than a bunch of jump scares.  In my opinion, jump scares can be fun but are way too easy.  A bunch of jump scares lumped together do not make a good horror movie.  There has to be that certain creep factor that oozes into your blood stream and creeps up your spine.  That feeling of dread that you know something bad could happen at any moment.  That feeling that makes you want to yell at the screen "Don't go in there!"  I feel this has been lost on many of today's gorefests that rely too heavily on CGI and torture instead of making a tension filled story.  If you are a fan of the old school scares like I am, "The House of the Devil" might be right up your ally.

"The House of the Devil" has a very simple story: A young college girl (Jocelin Donahue) really needs some cash to pay for her new apartment she is getting.  She sees an add for a babysitting gig.  When she takes it, she gets the willies from the family.  She wants to leave but gets offered $400 to stay.  Thus begins a weird night for her to say the least.

The best thing about this film is it's '80s charm.  Everything in this movie reeks of the era.  The opening credits, the wardrobe choices, and oh god the hair.  The feathered locks coupled with the jeans that go all the way up to your bellybutton make for a painful reminder of fashion come and gone (mostly).  Even the color palette the movie was shot in reminds me of looking at old photos.  Anyone who has played with photo apps on there phone will know the look I am talking about.  Certain colors seem to pop and others lose there luster.  The lighting is dark when needed.  I love a film that uses shadows effectively and it REALLY works when it reminds you of those movies that were never quite lit like they should have been.  Even the music for this is spot on '80s.  Normally I get a little bored with a nod to a certain era, but this movie does it with such aplomb you can't fault it.  Never once is there a wink to the camera saying "do you see what we are doing here?"  Except for the quality of the sound you would think this movie WAS made in the early '80s.  I have to give the filmmakers credit for that.  Yes, I know the director (Ti West) has made some shit films before.  But you have to give credit where credit is due.

I also have to give it up for them making a movie that is really truly scary.  It is a wonderful, tension building, slow burn of a film.  It is a creepy set up with a great off-beat '80s ending.  I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.  The acting was spot on.  I seriously hope these people get to do something bigger.  It was perfectly balanced between laughs and scares.  It took it's time to scare.  It wasn't satisfied with being a movie that just had loud noises to make you jump.  When our babysitter is making her way up some stairs she creeps along complete with creaky stair sound effects.  You know something could be at the top and sometimes you wish she would just walk faster, but that is the tension that makes this such a joy to watch.

If you want a night of fun scares and great nostalgia feel you really can't go wrong with this flick.  It is available to watch instantly on Netflix so you really have no excuse.  I had a great time watching this.  No it doesn't make you think a ton, but good entertainment makes me smile...regardless of the brain power needed to watch it.

9 out of 10 stars

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