Friday, October 23, 2009

House of the Devil (2009)

Fear 2.5/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 1/5

Quite a bit has been made about the way this film looks and moves; Comparisons to late 70's / early 80's are being thrown about and many are loudly trumpeting the triumph of the movie based solely on aesthetics. And while I agree that the producers have certainly been triumphant in capturing a certain feel and that there is a fun and slightly "cozy" feeling of nostalgia bubbling throughout the movie (if that makes any sense), a good look does not a great movie make.

Luckily, there is more going on here than simply looking the part - at least to a certain point. The House of The Devil is, like most good horror films, pretty straight forward in it's plot: College girl needs money to move into a new apartment. College girl takes job babysitting to raise money. College girl learns that there is no baby to be sat, but rather would be ensuring that the old lady locked upstairs does not get out while the extra creepy inhabitants enjoy a night out on the town. College girl accepts the gig only after securing a $400 payment. College girl is left alone in the house and scariness begins.

It sounds like I am oversimplifying the story, but that's really about it. Except that, as the title makes pretty clear, Satan makes an appearance or two. This is good. Keep It Simple Stupid. Where the film succeeds is in the first 7/8ths of the story. The pace is deliberately slow and tense, the locations are creepy and eerie and there are a couple surprise scares to keep you on edge, including one that really, really comes at you quickly and unexpectedly. The tension builds slowly and is very effective. My wife's hands often wound up in front of her eyes as the tension grew and grew and grew. A good sign.

Simply put, the first 80 minutes of this movie are fantastic.

The last 10, not so much, though not bad by any stretch. It's just that there comes a point where this slow boiling and well paced movie suddenly (and I mean suddenly) goes into hyper drive and resolves itself very very quickly. And the ending is a bit stock and unsatisfying.

But a minor complaint as overall, this is a really good horror film that understands pacing, timing and how to scare without insulting it's audience. Regardless of the quick ending, I was still very satisfied with the movie and recommend it to any horror fan.

Plus it totally looks like an episode of BJ & The Bear.

See trailer here.

- Complaint Dept

1 comment:

the jaded viewer said...

Totally agree with you (see review here)

The scares, the boos! and the damn slowy turtle slow burn comes up empty in the last 10 min.

It kept the look and feel of an 80s devil movie but added some gore and quick scares.

Not good, not bad, just eh.