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House of the Devil, The (DVD Review)

22 Jan, 2010 By: Billy Gil

House of the Devil

Street 2/2/10
MPI/Dark Sky
Box Office $0.1 million
$27.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for some bloody violence.
Stars Jocelin Donahue, AJ Bowen, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov.

For those of us born in the ’70s and ’80s, horror films were an essential part of growing up. But, as the saying goes, they don’t make ’em like they used to … until now.

The House of the Devil
is one of the few horror films that nails the distinct look, feel and quality of those classic Stephen King-inspired and Dario Argento-directed horror films such as Carrie and Suspiria, respectively. The film’s house is straight out of The Amityville Horror, and its heroine, Jocelin Donahue, is a new Jamie-Lee Curtis.

The House of the Devil can be seen as an homage — it borrows heavily from Rosemary’s Baby, and its elements are not unique. But it can also be enjoyed without a knowledge of classic horror, and as such it is a breath of fresh air from films such as the “Saw” series, which offer a non-stop barrage of gory images that aren’t so much scary as they are desensitizing.

In the film Donahue’s Samantha is a college student desperate for cash. Prodded by her feather-haired best friend, she answers a babysitting ad to come work for the Ulmans, a creepy old couple who has more than its fair share of secrets. As bored Samantha wanders the house she’s watching over, it becomes increasingly clear to her that the money she was offered bought more than just a night’s worth of service.

Donahue terrifically underplays Samantha as the film slowly, deliberately builds to an intense climax. If today’s horror fans can get past the stretches of seeming inaction and lack of constant titillation, hopefully they’ll find The House of the Devil’s scares cut deeper than a thousand “Saws.”

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