MOVIE REVIEW: “The House of the Devil”

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Quinn Sidor, Staff Writer

Halloween is just around the corner, and there is no better time to watch a good scary movie.

I recommend The House of the Devil, the 2009 film written, directed, and edited by Ti West. It tells the story of a college student, Samantha, played by Jocelin Donahue, who just signed a lease and badly needs money to pay for it. On the day of a lunar eclipse, she sees a sign on her campus for a babysitting job, and decides to take it. When she arrives at the house, Mr. Ulman, the man who offered the job, played by a perfectly creepy Tom Noonan, tells her that the job is not for a child, but actually to watch his elderly mother. Samantha is uneasy, but she needs the money and accepts. All she has to do is sit in the house and get paid for it, right? But things are not as they seem, and Samantha begins to hear strange noises coming from upstairs. 

The movie is set in the 1980s, during the “Satanic Panic,” and it is undeniably ‘80s, with a gloriously retro-style sequence featuring feathered hair and a walkman. It is not steeped in nostalgia or hindered by genre tropes, though. The characters are well-written and acted, and are the glue that holds the scares together. Greta Gerwig, writer/director of the movies Ladybird and Little Women, has a memorable role as Samantha’s friend Megan. More importantly, it’s scary.

Nearly perfect pacing steadily builds towards a bloody, satisfying conclusion, and the minimal, creepy score builds along with the film. The House of the Devil will please almost any fan of horror. If you liked this movie, consider checking out The Innkeepers, Ti West’s subsequent film about a haunted inn.

The House of the Devil is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.