Sunday, January 2, 2011

"House of the Devil" (2009)

Credentials: 6.5/10 (, 86% Certified Fresh Rating (, 73/100 (
                A college student inexplicably rents an apartment she can’t afford, wanders aimlessly around her campus, takes a job babysitting for a creepy couple, aimlessly wanders around their home and somewhere around the hour mark stuff starts to happen when a hapless Satanic cult shows up to spoil the party.
                Yeah, you would never expect a movie with credentials such as those to end up in the conversation about the Worst Movie of All Time and yet, here we are. It is important to note that the audience/user scores on both  (54%) and Metacritic (5.3) are significantly lower than those which factor in your mainstream critics. I don’t want to say that there was some pretentiousness involved with the big time critics’ scores, but there probably was. Shocking.
                They touted “House of the Devil” as a throwback to 70’s or 80’s horror with a dash of Hitchcock to boot. Also, the called it a break from mainstream horror gorefests. And there it is. Critics were so desperate for a break from remakes and torture porn in 2009 that they were willing to get into bed with literally anything.
 This movie may be a throwback, but I can promise you that slow doesn’t even begin to describe it. “House of the Devil” moves like a snail on a glue trap, only with much less purpose. The sleeping rabbit in the finale of the tortoise and the hare story had more forward momentum then this movie’s plot.
                Adorable animal analogies aside, this is a frustrating movie to watch. The basic idea is sound and the last four seconds are insanely creepy, but the rest feels like filler needed only to pad the run time. Director/Writer/Editor/Actor (never a good sign to have that many slashes) Ti West (“Cabin Fever 2” also not a good sign) seems to have taken a badass Youtube video and stretched it out to create a nearly unwatchable feature film.
                I had quite the inner debate with myself after watching this one last night over whether I should give it one star out of five or two stars out of five on my Netflix account. As horribly paced, clumsily acted and badly written as “House of the Devil” is; the final few frames are diabolically subtle and extremely disturbing. I pondered whether four effective seconds were enough to make up for wasting 94 minutes and 56 seconds of my life. Eventually I decided that they weren’t and gave it the one star.
                Aside from the ending, the only good part about this movie is the appearance of Tom Noonan, better known as Cain from “Robocop 2” and the Red Dragon killer from “Manhunter.” He brings with him his usual effortless creepiness and actually manages to class up the joint, albeit briefly.
Notes (WARNING: May contain SPOILERS!):
                :00 minutes- Claims to be “Based on True Events.” Not off to a good start
                :03 minutes-Hmm… your gut told you to rent to the deadbeat girl with no money who sort of looks like your daughter. Maybe it’s time to get a better business model…
                :06- Traditionally things you know… happen… in montages, other than girl walks… keeps walking… still walking!
                :10- Never trust someone who pronounces advertisements like that
                For some reason I scrawled “Qualifications!” at the top of this page. Not sure why…
                :15- Why rent the apartment if you can’t afford it? Because you have a crappy roommate? Have you ever heard of room changes? RA’s? Dealing with it?
                :17- Oh the roommate snores… say no more. Suddenly plunging yourself into premature financial ruin makes so much more sense…
                :22- And we’re off to the “House of the Devil!” Gonna put the previous 22 minutes of nothing behind us forever
                :24- Someone else actually did call about the babysitting job. Remember when the guy told you that on the phone like a minute ago?
                :26- What will be behind the front door of the Devil? Demons? Blood? I know! Fire!
                :27- Even better its Cain from “Robocop 2!” Sweet!
                :30- So is this protracted scene of the main girl’s friend eating a piece of candy really vital to the plot? Speaking of the plot, when’s that going to get going by the way? OMG, we’re still watching this girl eat! Move on!
                :37- Don’t look now but something actually just happened! The roller coaster has reached the top of the hill!
                :40- Never mind. By the way, the main character girl just said she was glad to help. She’s being paid $400 (American) for one night’s worth of babysitting, she should be ecstatic
                :46- Oh good. Our heroine is ordering pizza. It’s been a while since we were treated to an excruciatingly long scene of someone eating
                :48- Behold the Billiards Table of the Devil! Nestled securely in the Game Room of the Devil!
                :50- The Pet Goldfish of the Devil! Do NOT tap on the glass!
                :52- @Ti West: You do realize that your movie is only 95 min, right?
                :53- You know your movie is dull when the audience is on the edge of their seats waiting for the pizza guy to arrive
                :57- A lamp has been broken! Be still my beating heart! Ok, now I’m over stimulated. How about another montage of her wandering around the house to settle things down a bit?
                1 hour, 3 minutes- I don’t think that Cain paid this girl $400 to get the heebie jeebies and brandish a knife at his elderly mother-in-law
                1:04- CONFLICT! WE HAVE CONFLICT!
                1:05- Never mind.
                1:14- Great you blew a fuse. Now you’re going to need to find the Fuse Box of the Dev… wait a second. Yes! We have action and with only 21 minutes to spare!
                1:18- Hold on a second. SPOILER ALERT!

Why even bother with the elaborate babysitting ruse? Why didn’t they just throw a fishnet over top of her the second she walked in the door? The last 50 minutes of this movie have been an utter waste of time!

                1:20- The proper way to exit a house is to go out a door, not up a flight of stairs… The More You Know…
                1:23- So this is basically the worst satanic cult ever. The Devil’s got himself a sweet crib with that pool table and everything, but he needs to invest in some new help

                So there you have it. “The House of the Devil.” Do NOT be fooled by what the well known critics with their salaries tell you. Trust me, some anonymous internet stranger. This is NOT a good movie. Bumblebee Tuna.

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