If you’re reading this then its safe to assume you have some vague interest in horror films. If you’re also a Netflix user, you’ve probably encountered major difficulties in finding a horror film that’s actually, well, sort of okay. I have scoured the chasm that is Netflix on behalf of horror fans everywhere to find the horror gems that make paying £5.99 a month for Netflix (almost) worth it.
In few words, House of the Devil is a contemporary take on the late 60s-70s filmic obsession with satanic cults and all their delightful frills – ritualistic sacrifice, demonic impregnation and cosmic possession, to name a few.
College student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) takes on a mysterious baby-sitting job from a wealthy old couple, however when she arrives at the house, she is told she would be watching Mr. Ulman’s (Tom Noonan) decrepit elderly mother, not a harmless bundle of joy. With a hefty $400 dollars at stake, Samantha agrees to stay, regardless of the lies and abnormally creepy circumstances.
This is probably a metaphor for the great lengths, poor ass college students would go for some extra cash – I think most of us who have passed that stage can probably identify pretty closely to Samantha’s struggle. Coincidentally, Samantha’s job happens to be on the night of a once in a lifetime lunar eclipse…
Without spoiling the rest, I think House of the Devil is a decent film. Greta Gerwig of mumblecore stardom pops up as Samantha’s precocious friend Megan, which is always a pleasant surprise and the acting is generally solid. Director Ti West makes sure that the audience is rooting for Samantha, and at times she definitely defies our expectations – she is a brilliant illustration of adrenaline working overtime.
However, the film is a painfully slow burn and the action feels short-lived and somewhat unsatisfying – that technique works well for a movie like Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby but it falls short in this production. If you have a couple hours to kill and you like 1970s horror films, watch House of the Devil – it’s a pretty faithful homage, but it will never become iconic like the cult films it seeks to replicate.