A poor college student accepts a high paying babysitting gig at a remote house in the woods in order to pay for a new apartment, but she soon finds out that the family has much more nefarious plans for her... Director Ti West brings this throwback to the Supernatural 70s and 80s to the small screen with a unique design and approach that does an excellent job at capturing the look and feel of the era. Soft lensing and other subtle nuances create an authentic 80s aesthetic that is a far more credible attempt than the forced nostalgia that was applied to Quentin Tarentino's GRINDHOUSE experience. HOUSE references Horror classics like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS and BURNT OFFERINGS, where the real menace throughout much of the picture is delivered by the house itself, turning common household items and noises into night terrors. The Ulmans are awkward and off-putting from the start, while convincing in their own creepy way. Jocelin Donahue has a natural small town look and feel as the naive and desperate Samantha. She is one of the few actresses to downplay her performance, thereby becoming the character in a truly believable way. After a slow but steady build, West injects several shots of adrenaline that break up the lengthy exposition with legitimate thrills, keeping just enough interest in its viewers with a short attention span while completely appealing to fans of a slower breed of Horror film. The occult elements that close out the picture end up becoming its weakest points, contradicting the methodical build of the rest of the film with cheap shocks and excessive gore in an anti-climactic and rushed finale that begs the question "Why?" Why put so much effort into the calculated character and plot development just to end on such a low note? Despite the drop off in the end, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is an excellent Independent effort that calls back to a simpler time, when slow, brooding plots and actionless suspense were acceptable frights over sensational big budget FX and gore.
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