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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The House Of The Devil (2009) Review

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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.

IMG_7252.JPG

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.

IMG_7254.JPG

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.

IMG_7255.JPG

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:

IMG_7251.JPG

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.

IMG_7250.JPG

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.

IMG_7253.JPG

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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Popcorn (1991) Review

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Popcorn (1991)

Directed by Mark Herrier
Alan Ormsby (uncredited)

Starring:
Jill Schoelen
Tom Villard
Dee Wallace
Tony Roberts
Ray Walston
Derek Rydall

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of teenagers preparing an old horror movie show in an abandoned theatre discover a recording made by an actual murderer who died long ago. Very soon a shadowy figure resembling the killer starts stalking them one by one…

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My Opinion:

First of all, this thing may have come out in 1991 but it’s SO 80’s. Second of all, I watched this a good few months ago and have had to read about it online to refresh my memory. So… Apparently it’s not very memorable! Or I’m just senile. Which is also likely.

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I’ve mentioned this a few times but there are certain horror movies from the 80’s (and very early 90’s) that I’ve meant to watch for years JUST because I vividly remember their VHS covers in my local video rental store. I never got around to renting some of them (probably because I kept re-renting April Fool’s Day & the Nightmare On Elm Streets). One of them is Return To Horror High. Another is Curtains. Another is Dead Alive (Braindead – which I’ve seen part of). And, yes – another one of those was that glorious Popcorn poster at the top of this post. So I finally get to tick one more of these cheesy old horror movies off my list!

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I was thinking I had to remain totally spoiler free but, duh, the poster kind of gives the “wearing other people’s faces” thing away. As will my images. Screw it! I doubt anyone will rush out to watch this after my compelling review anyway. Let’s just do this as a “what’s good & what’s bad about it” review. What’s bad is the horrible quality of the version I watched. I was happy to see this was showing on TV but I swear that channel must just have a bunch of old pre-watched videotapes lying around. Maybe there’s a cleaned up version of this available (I don’t care enough to look) but I do wish I’d been able to see it all a little more clearly. Also what’s “bad” is that it’s totally cheesy & 80’s. Which most of you will see as a bad thing but is kind of more of a “good” thing in my book… 😉

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So what’s actually good about this cheesy old low-budget-looking thing? First of all, the story in that above plot synopsis isn’t too bad but most of all I loved the SETTING of the story. A cinema!!! (Or movie theater to Americans). I’ve always thought that more movies should be set in movie theaters. I wanted to see more of the movie theater at the beginning of Night Of The Comet (I just had to mention that one again). It’s also a big part of the reason I love Cinema Paradiso so much, which is all about love of film. Shit – am I comparing Popcorn to Cinema Paradiso?! Well, Popcorn is certainly no Cinema Paradiso but I appreciate the setting.

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In this story, university film students put on an all-night horror film festival. Three movies are shown and they’re actually a lot of fun to see bits and pieces of while, behind the scenes, a psychotic killer is stalking and killing the film students. Actually, the fake 50’s B-movie style films within the film were probably the best bits. The story of the killer who’s stalking the students is a pretty basic 80’s-type of slasher plot but it’s not too bad – I’ve certainly seen worse. But, hey – Ray Walston & Dee Wallace are in this! Who doesn’t love a bit of Dee Wallace?? And… Umm… That’s it. I have nothing more to say so I’ll skip my usual “summary”. There’s nothing too original here as far as the “slasher” film is concerned but the setting makes the movie a bit more fun. It’s not going to change your life if you watch it but it’s not going to ruin it either.

My Rating: 6/10

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