July 12th, 2010 by McCann


HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is a loving throwback to a subgenre of slow burn, late 70’s/early 80’s horror films that value suspense and tension building over balls-to-the-wall splatter and gore. It reminded me of films like: ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE OMEN and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Set in the early 80’s, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL,is about a sophomore college student named Sam (Jocelin Donahue) who needs $300 for a down payment on a place of her own so she can finally have a bit of freedom. Her roommate is too busy having lots of sex and Sam’s best friend Megan (Greta Gerling) is the rebel Sam wishes she could be. Sam needs cash to get out of her rut and quick.

Then suddenly, and all too conveniently, she spots an advertisement for a BABY$ITTER offering wages that are too good to be true. As you can tell from the ominous title, that’s where things start to go down hill.

Ti West who wrote, directed and edited the film, does a stellar job at recreating an authentic late 70’s/early 80’s look and feel for the movie. The yellow titles over freeze frames, great use of zoom and the grittiness of shooting on the original, well loved, Super 16mm format that was the staple of these films is again a loving tribute to the genre. Much like the faux trailers in GRINDHOUSE but without being tongue-in-cheek at all. It also had a promotional release on VHS in the USA for all the uber-fans. You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an 80’s film that values the slow boiling suspense over all else. Unfortunately it seems many audience members didn’t quite get it.

Pace is everything, and for those who enjoy the tension of older horror films over the hyperactive editing and reliance on SFX of newer films, then this will be a refreshing visit to the cinema for you. However if you are like the handful of morons at the screening I attended who couldn’t stop saying “yeah fuckin’ like stab someone aye”. Then this is not the film for you and clearly MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is more your cup of tea with a splash of bourbon. When the film kicked into an intense overdrive towards the end and some blood was spilt on screen someone yelled out “Finally…” to which I just had to respond with: “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

Just as quickly as the nightmare begins for Sam, it’s over and I was left feeling a bit disappointed by the ending.

HOUSE OF THE DEVIL isn’t for everyone, but for if you want something fresh, genuinely creepy and scary, check it out. It’s a great film to watch if you’re babysitting… alone… in the dark on a cold July night

Reviewed by Aaron McCann


Dir: Ti West

DOP: Eliot Rockett


SAM: Jocelin Donahue

MEGAN: Greta Gerwig

MR. ULMAN: Tom Noonan

MRS. ULMAN: Mary Woronov

Running time: 95min

Screening: Saturday July 17 at 10:30pm

Selected posters and images from House of the Devil…including the awesome VHS version

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  1. Mr Trivia says:

    Great review, Aaron! WTF is is it with people who can’t keep their gobs shut in the cinema? I see Greta Gerwing is in the cast, I saw a preview of GREENBERG on the weekend and she was great in that. It would be interesting to see her in something different.

  2. Aaron says:

    Totally agree. If a film doesn’t engage you, or anyone in the audience, and isn’t watchable in any sense of the word like “CTHULHU” (2007) which screened a few years back, then just get up and leave. After laughing uncontrollably at the terrible performances, terrible story, and terrible effects… I simply stood up and walked out… it was after a line about “giant salamanders”.


    Though that film was just simply bad. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was done with style and love for the genre.

    GREENBERG looks great, btw cant wait!

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