The House Of The Devil (2009) Review For Devil Week At The IPC

I’m re-posting my below review of Ti West’s The House Of The Devil for Devil Week at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view all the participating reviews HERE. 🙂

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The House Of The Devil (2009)

Directed by Ti West

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham, Dee Wallace

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual.

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My Opinion:

Last October I watched my first Ti West movie for my Halloween Horror Fest (The Innkeepers – review HERE) and actually quite liked it so I’ve been meaning to check out The House Of The Devil ever since then. Hmm. I’ll say it’s very obvious it’s from the same director. I’m still not sure how I feel about Ti West but, based on the little I’ve seen, he clearly likes to use the same sort of template for his films. I was thinking about checking out his movie The Sacrament soon as well but was expecting it to be another movie where NOTHING happens for the first hour or so and then suddenly all hell breaks loose in the last 20 to 30 minutes (and Cara has just confirmed that this is indeed the case once again in her review of The Sacrament HERE). I like his style for the most part so far but can totally understand why a lot of people hate his movies. Be aware that if you watch The House Of The Devil it’s veeeeeeeery slow until, yes, all hell breaks loose in the final 20 minutes or so. Exactly like The Innkeepers.

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I’m struggling to think of what to say about this one and am still not completely sure how I feel about it. There were certain things I loved, like the opening credits in the photo above and the look & mood of the film and, of course, how it’s set in my beloved 1980s. My favorite scene is when the main girl, played by Jocelin Donahue, puts on her walkman and dances around to The Fixx (One Thing Leads To Another! Remember that song?? I’m so old…). Oh yeah – and the house is a pretty cool looking creepy old house as well.

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Dee Wallace has a small role, which is cool for us old horror fans. Also, Mary Woronov is in this who I was shocked to realize was the scientist in the underrated Night Of The Comet (which I recently reviewed HERE). Here she is – I can’t say I recognized her:

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I also really did like the main girl and thought she had the perfect look for this movie – it felt like West was going for a Margot Kidder/70’s actress type of look which helped to set the “Suspiria” mood, which I think he was also going for. I like and appreciate that as all my favorite horror films are from the 70’s & 80’s but, if I want to watch Suspiria, I’ll just watch that instead of a modern day copy.

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This is sounding a bit too negative. I was almost sort of loving this movie, actually, until the end. With The Innkeepers, I was a little bored until the final half hour which I thought was really good and saved the movie. I often complain that horror movies rarely know how to end but I found the ending of The Innkeepers pretty satisfying. However, the opposite is true of The House Of The Devil. I REALLY wanted to love it and things were going well as I was actually thoroughly enjoying that “Ti West thing where nothing happens for the first hour” but then the ending just didn’t quite work for me. This was pretty disappointing as I think I’d be raving about this movie if I’d been happy with the ending. I of course won’t spoil it so can’t go into what I didn’t like (there was only really one specific thing). Let’s just say I wish he’d kept it a little more simple and “classic”. And, although the absolute final scene didn’t bother me, I’m sure a lot of people hated it.

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Summary:

I think what I’m trying to say in a really long-winded way is this: I liked this movie (despite my negative-sounding review) but can totally understand why it’s not for everyone. I doubt anyone will go read my Innkeepers review now but I was much more positive in that one. However, although I think The Innkeepers is more “accessible” and is the one I’d be far more likely to recommend to people without worrying that they’d hate me for recommending it, I actually think The House Of The Devil is the better film of the two. Does that make sense?? That may be why I sound so disappointed. I think this movie had a lot of potential and I’d like to see a Ti West movie I can truly say I loved from start to finish. Maybe someday. This was so close at first…

My Rating: 7/10

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30 thoughts on “The House Of The Devil (2009) Review For Devil Week At The IPC

  1. One of my favorites – nice work! I think Woronov was in almost every horror movie in the 80s so she was fitting here. I’ll always remember her from The Halfway House. Let me know if you want me to link you to that brilliant piece of work I wrote about.

    Thanks for contributing to Devil Week!!

    #moredevil

    • I’d have to say that Ti West films are definitely not for everyone. If you don’t mind a very very very (very) slow pace, you might like this one. I liked the mood & the look more than anything. 🙂

  2. I really liked HotD too. And in the first half of the movie when nothing is going on there are a lot of clues to something being wrong with the ‘gig’ and enjoyed finding the nuances and pointing them out. Spoiler Alert: the obvious one was that there were no family pictures on the walls anywhere in the house 🙂 The movie plays like a 1970’s film where all the action is near the end (even The Exorcist was like that).

    • Glad to hear from fans of this – I know it’s not for everyone. 🙂 I really should watch it again to look for the little things like that. I did enjoy the first half of the movie more than the end…

  3. Oh I do so hate it whenever I am unwittingly being coerced into joining a Satanic cult. That always ruins my weekend. . . . .

    • Ha! I know you hate these movies. And this is his best one! I just watched The Sacrament- that one REALLY has no point. I like It Follows a thousand times more than this one. 😉

  4. Hey you! Thanks for the link, missy! 😀 You know, I put this one on my Spook Series list because I saw it a few years back and didn’t love it, but since then everyone’s been all, “This movie is great!! Why don’t you like it?!” So if it gets votes, I figure I’ll give it a second chance. But I have a feeling my reaction will still be less enthusiastic than yours. Lol. Glad you enjoyed this one well enough though. Excellent review, per usual. 🙂

    • Oh! I forgot I linked to you… Lol. I should have re-read this before reposting it. I remember you not being all that thrilled over this one now. Yeah… I can see why some wouldn’t like it. Ti West films are sooooo SLOW. I’ve just watched The Sacrament in preparation for October & I definitely preferred this one. I can’t wait for your Spook Series! 🙂

      • Yeah The Sacrament was okay, but it could’ve been way better. Ti West is just never gonna be my cup of tea, I think. Thanks, lady! I can’t wait to get going on it! 😀

  5. I haven’t seen this one yet but I hold out hope it’s not the typical devil movie loaded with embarrassing to watch chanting scenes where actors make fools of themselves with nonsense language that’s supposed to be scary. Instead of chills those scenes draw laughs.

    • Well… It’s very like a 70’s satanic film. It feels more like things like Suspiria than some of the cheesy devil movies of more modern times. It’s definitely veeeeerrrrrry slow, though. Like all Ti West films, some will hate it. I think he got the mood just right & I don’t think it was embarrassing to watch but I wasn’t crazy about the ending.

  6. I should actually just take the plunge and watch it and see how it goes. Love what you had to say on this one, though it is a pity it was a slow burn but didn’t quite do it for you like The Innkeepers by the end when things heat up. The Sacrament was very much like that, trundling along and then getting crazy out of hand quickly by the last third.

    • Yeah, I just watched The Sacrament (already getting all my horror movies watched in time for October posts!). That was definitely my least favorite of the three. Looking back on these now, I’d say Devil is my favorite. It’s the one I enjoyed overall the most even though I found the ending disappointing. West’s films are just SO slow… I can see why some hate them! I’d be very interested to see what you think of this one. 🙂

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