House of the Devil (with special guest reviewer Jan Carrera!)

Release Date:  11/8/2009 – Rated R

Starring: Tom Noonan (Robocop 2)

Plot Summary: It’s some time in the 80’s and college student Samantha needs some extra money. Lucky for her a creepy Tom Noonan has just the gig, he takes her to his house out in the country for her to babysit his elderly mother. Sam’s very uncomfortable with the situation but needs money so eventually agrees. As the night grows long her friend shows up and leaves, (and dies) she breaks a vase, and as she’s cleaning up she discovers photos of a family that isn’t the one that hired her. She then starts to explore the house, unlucky for her the family in the pictures she found is chopped up and laid out on a pentagram. I will stop here so I don’t spoil the ending, but I will leave you with this: Lunar Eclipse, and Satanic Rituals.

Alex’s Thoughts:  Waited and waited (and waited) for something good to happen in this movie.  You have to wait 1 hour and 4 minutes for this thing to get rolling, and that is just too long for me.  I understand them trying to build suspense, but if you can’t do that in thirty minutes, you’re doing something wrong. The worst part for me is that the payoff isn’t even worth a short wait, in my opinion.  The acting is fine, and they captured the feel of an eighties movie well, but it just didn’t do anything for me.  I just didn’t get the cliffhanger ending either, which might be because I’m partially retarded, but I don’t understand what they wanted to tell me with that. 

Tim’s Thoughts: Slow at times, I think that this is kind of a neat movie. Ti West absolutely nails the mood, and ambiance of classic slasher horror. I know the pacing is very deliberate but I liked it, it gave me time to soak up all the little tributes and homages to other films, but alas the last part of the movie seemed rushed, either they didn’t know how to get to the ending, or a producer had that part thrown in to spice it up, it’s a bit weak and has been done to death. That is until the very end, and then that saved it for me. I think that this one will definitely be lost on the masses, it’s just way too slow, but for me and my unique tastes it’s nearly an excellent movie. Not great but pretty good. Again, the ending made up for some the of lameness of the 3rd act.

Jan’s Thoughts:This one was obviously a labor of love from director/writer/editor Ti West, who clearly spent a lot of time and research in his attempts to perfectly recapture that late 70’s/early 80’s horror vibe. There were many great little touches (giant Walkman with fuzzy orange earphones, girl with jeans up to her lower ribs), and the overall look of the film was fantastic. I was especially keen on the title cards, the freeze-frames and quick zooms, and the preposterous opening text, citing “true, unexplained events.” As for the movie itself, it was essentially 2/3 of slow-burning, fairly intense suspense horror, buoyed by an unsettling, creepy-as-hell performance from Tom Noonan, and finally stymied via a by-the-numbers third act that frequently defied viewer logic. The big climax played out like a lazy, lukewarm rehash of Rosemary’s Baby and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (I was, however, pleasantly satisfied with the film’s epilogue; an open-ended final moment, when done properly, can save any halfway-decent horror movie, especially when it’s treading water.)

Final Thoughts: 2 out of 3 mostly positive reviews ain’t bad, considering that Jan is the best informed horror connoisseur we know. Not for everyone but something that die-hard fans need to see. Not necessarily a good Party night movie, a bit more of a somber mood would be appropriate. For lovers of the art and craft this is worth a peek, you Shlock-Jocks should  give it a pass. Thanks to our good friend Jan for his help and choice, we hope you will do it again soon!!

Alex Rates This Movie 3/10

Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

Jan Rates This Movie 7/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here