The brainchild of virtually no-name director, Ti West, The House of the Devil is a highly-stylized atavistic nod to late 70s / early 80s horror. This movie goes back to when film was actually film, and horror movies were not dressed up music videos. Avoiding ultra-gore, stinger sound effects, digital effects, and remake licensing, this movie is a breath of fresh air. Ti West treats his audience seriously, intentionally avoiding the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ approach that’s currently en vogue. Also wonderful to see something beautiful shot on 16mm film, since video is so easy and cost-effective now. This is true grainy organic film stock here, not video made to look like film. Great to see somebody stick to their vision and not fall prey to convenience.
The House of the Devil contains very little ‘camp’, and pulls off the 1980s look perfectly. Props to the set designer, as the orange headphones, 80s Coke cups, and VHS drawers are exactingly placed, and really pull you into the vibe. Occasionally, this movie does betray its low-budget heritage, but it’s entirely forgivable, as The House of the Devil is actually put together better than many mainstream occult / horror movies from the 80s.
The plot is nothing new. The babysitter is home alone with creepy cultists running around, chaos ensues, you know the drill. The ending can be guessed as well, but this movie still has a je ne sais quoi to it. Which could just be the pleasure of seeing something that isn’t done anymore, and seeing it done so well and seriously. It lacks that hip irony that seems to permeate all aspects of today’s youth oriented media. Bravo!
For fans of: Darkness (2002), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and Unhinged (1982).
Watch the trailer below, right now.