December 10, 2011

WTF Movie of the Week: House of the Devil.

Ah, the 80's: walkmans, hairspray, legwarmers,
devil worship... Yup, it's all there.
When I'm writing and I reach page 10 or something, I frequently start to wonder if one of the characters shouldn't meet an horrible end. Will the reader go through another 30 pages of character development before the juicy stuff starts? And then I start to doubt about the whole story and frequently it lands on the shelf somewhere.

Glad to know what out there, there are writers who don't have these doubts. Like the writers of House of the Devil.

It's a 2009 movie set in the early eighties. I was barely conscious of my own existence around 1981, but I've been told that it does a tremendous job in capturing the essence of the time. The walkman, the leg-warmers, the hairspray and the pay phones, it's all there. It's about Samantha, a college student, who desperately needs money. How desperately exactly we find out as the movie unfolds. For she takes a babysitting job, which doesn't actually involves a baby. The person that needs babysitting is an elderly woman who 'keeps to herself'. Despite numerous protests of her best friend, Samantha stays in the house.

Then, for about 42 minutes, nothing happens. And it's here that most blood-loving gore-ghouls will tune out. Samantha goes on an explore-o-thon inside the house. Since the movie is called House of the Devil there must be something creepy going on, right? So, we the viewers are on the edge of our seats every time she opens another door to another dark room, as she prances around the kitchen with her headphones on, when we see her sitting watching TV. And this is where the movie displays its brilliance. The atmosphere is so claustrophobic and beautifully crafted that it becomes hard to turn away. Even though nothing happens! It's almost a shame when something does happen, because, honestly, that's when the story goes haywire.

What happens is some senseless blood and gore, a few good fights and a frankly ridiculous surprise ending that a blind man could've seen coming. I was happy they didn't stretch that out too long, because I was grinding my teeth already.

All in all it wasn't a bad movie. The director captures atmosphere of the 80's and especially the 40-odd minutes of non-action were enough to send this one straight to the top.... hmmm.. let's say twenty. The odd ending can be forgiven, although I do feel that if the writers had spend the same amount of attention to that, I could've been better as well.

A movie full of unrealised potential! Give it a try, especially if you liked The Others!


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