— by TOM ELCE —
Touted by several critics as something of an effective throwback to the haunted house themed horrors of the ’80s and ’70s, Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” looks to be one of the more promising horror efforts of the year, seemingly a world away from the onslaught of kiddie-friendly remakes and endless sequels (just wait for “Saw XX”).
Answering a “Babysitter Wanted” ad, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) soon finds herself minding the Victorian mansion of the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Ulman (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov). She’s not there for the sake of any kids, however, but for the elderly of Mrs. Ulman who lives upstairs. Naturally, things aren’t run-of-the-mill with the strange couple and their home, with spooky occurences in the mansion supposedly stacking up the further the slow-burn film progresses.
At the least, the clip featured here doesn’t resort to the same usual jump scares we’ve come to expect from these kind of scenes – in this case Samantha investigating the upstairs of the house, knife in hand. The investigation doesn’t end with someone or something popping up from the shadows or anything like that, but does end with an intriguing shot hinting clearly at the movie’s themes. It’s pretty ominous.
For writer-director Ti West, the film looks to be more promising than his other recent horror film, the still-unreleased and purportedly dreadful “Cabin Fever 2.” He’s said to have a gift for slow-moving, suspenseful filmmaking, though little has been written about previous films of his like “Trigger Man.” If “The House of the Devil” is as good as it looks and sounds, it could be his break-out film.
Otherwise, the cast isn’t a list of totally recognisable names, but does have actors with some good performances behind them. AJ Bowen, for example, was one of the better things about “The Signal” and Greta Gerwig is recognisable to followers of the mumblecore movement.
Here’s hoping “The House of the Devil” does indeed add up to more than “The Skeleton Key Part 2.”
“The House of the Devil” is now in limited release in the U.S.
Follow Tom Elce on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tom_elce.