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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The Innkeepers (2011) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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The Innkeepers (2011)

Directed by Ti West

Starring:
Sara Paxton
Pat Healy
Kelly McGillis
Alison Bartlett
Jake Ryan
Lena Dunham
George Riddle
Brenda Cooney
John Speredakos

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two young employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a once-grand hotel that is about to close. Claire and Luke are the only employees working during its final weekend of operation. Both are ghost hunting enthusiasts and are fascinated by the hotel’s supposedly haunted history, which includes the legend of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who hung herself in the 1800s when her husband abandoned her on their honeymoon, and whose body was supposedly hidden in the basement by the hotel owners.
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As I’m so far behind on my reviews for Halloween Horror Fest, I’ll keep this one short. I say that a lot but I mean it this time. 😉

In the middle of watching this, I actually paused to look it up at The IPC to see if Eric had reviewed it. Yep! And he liked it. Yay! You can read his review HERE.
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This really is one of those films that you’ll like or you’ll hate. I’ve seen enough reviews here now to know that people are divided on this one. Count me as one of the people who liked it.
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If you like the slightly more old school movies about hauntings, you may like The Innkeepers. If you don’t mind a movie that (very) slowly builds up to the finale and doesn’t have loads of in-your-face predictable jump scares or gore, you may like The Innkeepers. If you like the likes of Saw, etc, you may not like The Innkeepers.
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My all-time favorite horror movie (Or maybe second favorite – it’s close. I’ll know when I do the list of my top ten horror films soon!) is The Shining. I’m not one to get scared by a movie but The Shining is genuinely creepy. The Overlook Hotel itself is probably the creepiest thing about the film. The Yankee Pedlar Inn, while not as creepy as The Overlook, is still not a place where I’d want to spend the night. There are loads of old hotels like this in England and I had the bright idea to stay in one once. Dumb idea! I didn’t sleep a wink. Plus there was a door/hatch/whatever in the ceiling RIGHT above the bed. I stared at that thing all night thinking I’d see some red eyes peering out at me or something. So, yeah – a “haunted inn” movie is the type of movie for someone like me. It won’t be for everyone.
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When it comes to horror movies, the one thing I can’t stand more than excessive and unnecessary gore is annoying & unlikeable characters who do stupid things. I can handle a bit of blood and there’s a bit at the end of The Innkeepers but nothing bad and not something I couldn’t watch.

Although the character of Luke is somewhat annoying, I found Claire very likeable. She’s sweet, naive, and a little dorky. She reminds me a little of me when I was young and used to actually still be sweet. Okay – you may say she “does some stupid things” but nothing I can’t forgive. I know what I’m like – although I’d be scared shitless working in a “haunted inn”, I know I’d go exploring things and trying to see the ghost. Because I’m an idiot. But then I’d shit myself and run away screaming like Claire does if I actually saw anything. (She doesn’t literally shit herself. Me neither). Claire feels like a “real” person and I like that – it makes it easier to buy into a movie when you can relate to at least one of the characters.

I also liked Kelly McGillis in the role of the retired actress turned psychic staying at the hotel and whom Claire turns to for help (Did I use “whom” correctly there? Always confused by that one!). I’ve always had a soft spot for McGillis since finding out she couldn’t stand Tom Cruise when filming Top Gun and that they used to do things to piss each other off on purpose.

I like how this film is almost a comedy at first and gets you knowing & liking the characters as they just stand around and talk a lot and discuss the inn’s creepy history because they find it fun & intriguing. But then the film changes & suddenly turns into a pretty seriously scary movie at the very end. I even found the ending to be satisfying, unlike so many other horror films. It comes full circle and it makes sense. Good stuff. I liked it. Don’t listen to the haters!
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Summary:

The Innkeepers is a fairly tradtional “haunted inn” story that takes its time (REALLY takes its time…) letting us get to know and like the characters as we watch them do little more than talk to each other and discuss the inn’s history in the final weekend before it’s closed for good. The characters feel like real people who do slightly crazy things that real people would do. Things are pretty light & comedic until, finally, the ending turns into a pretty damn scary movie. Not for horror fans who only like a lot of in-your-face scares and loads of gore, The Innkeepers is more my type of “horror” movie.

My Rating: 7/10

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