The House of the Devil; or Adventures in Cultist Babysitting

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another weekly review of a random horror film we’ve stumbled upon! Joining you is your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who suggest always taking a sarcastic, comeback spewing friend to a creepy house because who knows when you’ll need someone else to die instead of you in a situation.

This week’s film offering: The House of the Devil

Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch TV. DIE. (A typical Friday night, then?)

Lilly: Imagine you are hard up for cash and want to move into a sweet new apartment, so you decide to take a number from a vague flyer about a babysitting job. Not hard, we’ve all done it. Then you call said number on a payphone, leave a message…and the pay phone rings. Do you even pick it up? No. No, you do not.

But then, you aren’t the lead in The House of the Devil. And a good thing or it wouldn’t have been a film.

Andy: Yeah, ‘naive’ is definitely the word that springs to mind here. It’s a film that deliberately places itself back thirty years but I don’t think that anyone would have fallen for this in the 80s

OR now. Still, if you need the money…

So our young heroine heads off into the back of beyond, displaying some sense in taking her much more suspicious friend along with her, and is offered a ridiculous sum of money to essentially watch TV and eat pizza. Also Grandma’s upstairs, but she’ll be no bother. Promise.

Lilly: So, the creepy guy who called you on a payphone (how did he have the number, ooOOooo) and lives in the middle of nowhere near a graveyard lied about having a kid–so what! Take the money! Think of your decently sized apartment! Take it! You’ll surely live to enjoy it, right? Right.

Andy: And … that’s kind of it for most of the film. She’s in the house, looking around, and slowly, slooowly coming to the realisation that things are not what they seem.

Lilly: It’s a babysitter-gets-menaced piece that definitely delivers, and most importantly, really pays attention to the details of its predecessors in the genre. This becomes evident very early on–in the opening credits, in fact, which feel so eighties you practically come out of them wearing leg warmers and sporting a side ponytail. The shots, the music, the fashion–all of it had the feeling of classics like Halloween. And, uh…Halloween II. Anyway, you get the point!

Andy: There’s a lot to like. There’s no weak link in the cast, but there’s no big ticket stars either, which can be distracting. The biggest is probably, I dunno, Tom Noonan? It’s very, very well put together.

However, it is absolutely glacially paced. It’s the only criticism I have, but it’s a big one if you get easily bored. It stretched right up to the edge of what I could deal with. It’s almost like they didn’t have quite enough plot and just substituted atmosphere instead. But it’s still very good.

Lilly: The pacing was alright for me (she said, having fallen asleep during it but that can be blamed on being tired, not the film) but I was sort of thrown by weird focus’ the film had. Like on pizza. No pizza in this film was good. Like, no one finished a piece and that is really distracting. Also, was the pizza place she called an evil pizza place, or did they honestly want to make sure she didn’t get hungry while babysitting Nana? I have a lot of pizza related questions and the film did that to me. Twice in a film was pizza deemed not good, and that stands out, is all I’m saying.

Andy: The fact that you had time to ponder these things is telling. Even with a nap. Anyway. The soundtrack is excellent.

Lilly: Yesssssss. There is a scene where she is bopping all over the place, dancing to a tune, and I was right there with her. I mean, besides the fact that she bopped right upstairs without thinking of poor Nana who might be napping. Inconsiderate.

Also, I did wonder what it was that turned teens off caregiving for the elderly–was that a thing in the eighties? A sudden wave of creepy elderly folk tricking young people into their homes under the guise of elder care for pay? What happened to those teens? I want to know.

Andy: One final observation – the lead, who is otherwise very good, has the most forgettable face in movie history. Every time she turned away I automatically replaced her with Suzy from Suspiria, and was surprised when she turned back around.

Lilly: I was even thinking that, and I don’t even like Suspiria enough to keep the lead in my mind.  Anyway, for a film made in 2009, I was really impressed by how much of the tone of an eighties film it really captured, with a bit of creep and a bit of camp, and I definitely would recommend this one for a fun movie night treat.

Andy: Sure. Just remember it’s a slow burner. Also, it says in the opening it’s based on a true story, but as far as I can tell that’s a load of dingo’s kidneys.


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