Monday, 15 November 2010

The House of the Devil (2009) - Ti West

Satanists always seem to get a raw deal when it comes to the cinema. From Minnie & Roman Castevet and their circle of friends in Rosemary's Baby, down to Angel Blake and her mates in Blood on Satans Claw, they're always portrayed as up to no good. If they're not sacrificing a goat one minute then they are doing something ungodly with a chicken, let's not even mention virgins or we'll be here all night. The funny thing is unlike other minorities you never see them picketing the local multiplex do you?

Now I'm fairly certain that I've never actually known any worshipers of Old Nick, but I've had my suspicions. Mainly the management of the Virgin Megastore I worked at once. I can't be certain though. And of course like everyone else I have my own favourite screen satanist, mine being Mocata (Charles Grey) in The Devil Rides Out. He's a right nasty piece of work, but luckily Christopher Lee is on hand to battle on the side of good for once, 'Don't look at the eyes' indeed.

Anyway in case you haven't already guessed The House of the Devil is about satanists. You probably could have worked it out even if I hadn't told you, the title is a dead giveaway for a start. Despite the fact that this is from 2009, it has a very eighties feel to it, intentionally so since it is set in that period. Very nicely done it was too. You see the thing most directors get wrong when trying to make 'a film like they used to in them olden days', is they use modern techniques and after a few seconds of nosebleed editing and Mickey Bay style camera madness, you know you are anywhere but the period they have tried so hard to create.

So the film itself is a slow tension building corker, well it would be if it didn't blow it's load in the last reel and spoil most of what had gone before it. Which is a shame because it was all going so well. The mirror in the school was even covered in finger smudges, one of those things that makes me happy along with dirty cars and glass doors with hand prints on them. Anyway basically girl desperate for money babysits for a couple in the middle of nowhere, on the night of a lunar eclipse. So far so normal, until Tom Noonan is introduced as the father of the house. Now anyone who knows their films will know straight away that something is up here, since old Tom almost always plays a wrong 'un. As I said the build up is great, a few things are thrown away which could have been used better, and what little plot there is becomes a tad confusing when it needn't be. Both me and the good wife had to talk through a particular scene to try and figure out just why our heroine became so spooked. In the hands of a slightly better writer this sort of thing wouldn't happen. So my final conclusion is that this is like a stopgap, something to tide you over until a real scary film comes along. Considering just how rarely decent horror films do turn up, you could be in for a long wait.

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