If you were to stumble into a screening of the new horror film, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL without knowing a thing about it, you might think you were watching some long lost horror gem from the early eighties, that was never released until now. Like something that a young TOBE HOOPER might have made before THE FUNHOUSE; or what WES CRAVEN might have done right after THE HILLS HAVE EYES; or what GEORGE ROMERO did in between KNIGHTRIDERS and CREEPSHOW. I’ve never seen a newly made film that so completely nails the tone, style and look of a horror movie from the period of the late seventies and the early eighties, the way this one does. The cinematography, costumes, hair, makeup, music, editing, pacing and performances, all feel like a movie made in 1982-83. It’s pretty amazing.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is about a pretty college coed named Samantha (JOCELIN DONAHUE), who needs to make some fast cash baby sitting, so she can move into a new place. When she responds to an add on campus, a strange couple (TOM NOONAN and MARY WORONOV) make her a very generous offer to watch the wife’s sick mother for a few hours. As the evening goes on, suspense slowly builds to the discovery that she is to be the victim of a satanic ritual in celebration of a total eclipse of the moon!
The director is TI WEST, who’s next film is the forthcoming straight to DVD, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER and after seeing THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, I’m really looking forward to renting it. He’s made a pretty cool little horror film that combines the babysitter/home alone type psycho-dramas like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS with satanic ritual/supernatural suspense movies like ROSEMARY’S BABY and ALICE SWEET ALICE.
Everything in the film feels like it was shot in the eighties! From the opening period style credits to the feathered hair, high waisted jeans and giant walkman worn by the very talented lead actress JOCELIN DONAHUE, this film feels authentic as hell.
The music by JEFF GRACE is that perfectly creepy piano heavy stuff you’d hear in movies like BLACK CHRISTMAS and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. It’s a very suspenseful score.
Lots of great casting, that includes a few veterans from that era. TOM (MANHUNTER) NOONAN and MARY (DEATH RACE 2000) WORONOV are great as the weird satan worshiping couple and DEE (THE HOWLING) WALLACE makes a brief appearance as the Landlady.
The movie has a lot of great atmosphere and builds a tremendous amount of suspense along the way, but it could have used a few more scares and a better ending. That’s okay though, because THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL scores a lot of points from me for sheer old school charm alone. I leave you with a few more of the many vintage style posters that have been made for this movie. Enjoy!