Stacie over at Final Girl has invited us, once again, to join her in watching something grand. Or maybe it's not the movie that is grand, but rather that we are all watching it together that is grand. We are the world. Or something...
This month's pick was the 2009 Ti West flick "The House Of The Devil." And I have a new crush. Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue). Just look at her. How could you not want her to triumph over evil?!
Samantha, or Sam as she prefers, is bettering her situation by moving out of the dorm room she shares with her, let's say "less than desirable" roommate. She's found the perfect apartment with the perfect landlady, but she may have a problem coming up with the money for the first month's rent. So she goes job hunting.
College job boards are the perfect solution to any financial woes you may have and Sam knows it. Sam answers the call of Mr. & Mrs. Ulman. They are seemingly in immediate need of a babysitter. Even though the situation seems weird, Sam is going to see it through. I mean, the Ulman's are willing to pay a huge amount of money for a few hours of her time. What could possibly go wrong? The movie revolves around the timing of a full lunar eclipse, and the unnamed Satanic cult that is willing to do anything to see their mission through.
This movie is not perfect, but it is hugely entertaining. I found myself staring at the screen as we see lingering camera shots. I found myself holding my breath as the characters were investigating things that needed investigating. As plot points were slowly revealed to the characters (and sometimes exclusively to the viewer) I found my mind wandering to see where this film might be taking me. There are lots of "big reveal" scenes in this film, some where pieces of the puzzle are answered, and some where a twist in the plot would cause us more questions.
Two of the reasons this film worked so well were the performances of Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov. These two were perfectly cast as Mr. & Mrs. Ulman. Tom Noonan is pitch perfect in his role as he is timid, yet at the same time, sinister enough to command your attention.
Mary Woronov is charming as Mrs. Ulman. She is disarming and seems genuine, yet you know there are things that she is hiding.
At the end of the film, when almost all of the Satanists' intentions are known, there is a ritual scene that is quite disturbing. The introduction to this scene is shot with all quick cuts and loud music, and would feel more at home in a Saw movie than in this one.
I assume that this is the Grandmother who shows up. It's not really made clear who it is, but that is my guess.
Overall, this movie is great. There is an immense feeling of nostalgia that will make you feel right at home. While the story is nothing new, the way that it is presented is indeed spectacular. There are certain elements that feel out of place, like the aforementioned quick cut scene, but I also had a problem with the actor who played Victor Ulman. His look didn't seem to match the time period the film was trying to portray. It's kind of a strange complaint, but his scenes took me out of the movie.
Those are truly minor complaints. This movie was created as an homage to the greatest age of horror movies that I know. I had a blast with it. There are many, many great scenes that will have you jumping out of your seat, or sinking into the couch. At the end of the day, isn't that why we watch these things?
(One more picture of Sam to wash that horrible Grandmother picture taste out of my mouth.)