Ti West’s The House of the Devil blew me away on multiple levels, not the least of which is that he just f’ing NAILED the 1980s look and feel of the thing. I mean, seriously.
Usually when I watch films set in the 80s, I feel like I’m watching a cheap imitation of that era with bad costumes and all the wrong props. But West got it, to the point where if I wasn’t such a rabid Tom Noonan fan, I wouldn’t be able to tell that this movie was filmed in 2009 instead of ‘84 or ‘85. Every single thing from the sets to the clothes and hair, to the “Satan is gonna get choo” plot – and right down to the film stock – looks authentically 80s. It’s AMAZING. If I still had a VHS player, you bet I would have gotten one of the limited edition tapes of this movie as soon as it was released.
So, is this movie scary? I know most viewers don’t think so – and maybe you just had to grow up in the 80s to love something like this now. But at points, I think it definitely is. A large amount of time is spent building the suspense to the point where you know something is going to happen, you just don’t know when, and you’re on the edge of your seat just WAITING for it.
When the “it” finally happens, it might seem kind of lame – unless you’re scared by Satan-worshiping creeps (and let’s face it, no one is creepier than Noonan. That guy towers over everybody and has one of the most interesting, frightening faces and haunting ways of delivering lines of anyone. ever. This is why he was so perfect as Francis Dollarhyde in Manhunter – but I’ll talk about that another time).
As for gore — the best, most splattery scene in the movie is when the main character’s friend bites it. Really, absolutely, terrific blood and splatter. I was super impressed!
It’s really really worth a watch, and I highly recommend.
If you’re looking for something by Ti West that’s a little more modern in its scariness, I thought Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever was excellently done. Tons of gore and splatter, and totally worthy of a sequel to Roth’s flesh-eating virus grossness.