House of the Devil

Dissecting the Complaints About the Film

I read in a interview how the director, Ti West, wanted to make this movie with an 1980's feel to it, but also how the theme of 80's horror movies were made. The star of the movie, Jocelin Donahue (Samantha), wears oldschool jordache jeans, she carries around a clunky SONY walkman, and has an 80's thick wavy hair style. There is also a caption at the beginning of the movie that mentions events that happened in the 80's, but more on that in a bit.

The basic plot of the movie is Samantha takes a babysitting job from strangers to earn rent money. An older couple played by Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov (Mr and Mrs Ulman) have only spoken to Samantha over the phone and given her directions to their home. When Samantha arrives driven by her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) to the house to babysit, she is told by the creepy old Mr Ulman that she'll actually be keeping watch on an elderly woman instead. At first reluctant, Samantha agrees to the job for a $400 payday.

I remember watching it, and immediately thinking that when Samantha goes to babysit, and things seem really weird vibe-wise, that she made the classic mistake of allowing her friend to leave, and even more at fault for not getting the hell out herself when she had the chance. Ofcourse if she did trust her instinct and left, then we have no horror movie right?

It's funny how I am always fully aware of these bad situations in these types of movies, and everytime I watch a horror movie and a similar situation like this begins to occur, I'm all "oh you're a dumbass, shit doesn't seem right and you're going to leave your friends to go out to the shed by yourself to fix the breaker after the power went out?? -are you f'n crazy?!?"

When the creepy Mr and Mrs Ulman leave for a night of eclipse watching, Samantha explores the mysterious house for a good portion of the movie. This, as everyone knows, is called a 'slow build', but to many of the comments I read after I saw the movie, it was the thing that most people complained about.

Some could say that this movie had a super slo-mo build. I kind of thought the build worked (cause I'm a sucker for the vibes that the builds in these kinds of genre of movies dish out), but I also could understand as I was watching the movie how it sure was taking a long time to get the ball rolling, to get a taste of some action so to speak.

So many people complained about the slow build, but I liked the pacing of the movie, it built up tension and intrigue, plus interest in the character. The next biggest complaint was that the climax from the super long build didn't deliver. Many people were expecting more from the ending because they had to endure a long wait for it, and then the satanic seance/ritual happens, and the climax ends rather quickly to many people's disappointment...and trust me, many of them carried their rage online to post how pissed they were about it.

People also complained and felt misled with the foreword caption at the beginning of the film. There is a caption at the beginning of the movie that says "based on true events". I always love when I read phrases like this at the beginning of a movie, especially a horror movie, because then it becomes that much more real, and less hollywood-movie fake. Turns out, that's exactly why the director puts the caption in the movie, cause he wants the viewer to take the movie seriously.

Problem is, the movie isn't exactly a 'true story', as you can easily realize, especially at the end when the girl is pregnant with satan's baby. (which also sets us up for a sequel, and speaking of...where the heck is it already?!! -this movie came out in 2009) The caption at the beginning of the movie should have read 'based on an inspired story' -from America's imaginations and views of what the 80's satanic culture must've been up to behind closed doors. I guess 'based on an inspired story' doesn't quite have the same ring or effect that the words 'true events/story' have.

Well, needless to say, this pissed many people off. I even initially had a problem with it, because Hollywood is starting to go all 'boy who cried wolf' lying to us viewers about what's true. I mean, how can you say that it's based on true events when obviously that is a bunch of B.S., right?

Well, I read an interview with the director, and he had stated that while the movie wasn't a true story, there were 80's cults who did rituals, and he mainly wanted to get the viewer to take the movie seriously...After I read that, I really wasn't as pissed because what it did was work to perfection until the very last scene (on me atleast), but at the same time it's still misleading to the audience and I don't want Hollywood making a bunch of bogus movies and stamping them with the "based on true story' tag.

Overall, the 'House of the Devil' has alot of style and substance and is a certified KR classic. The movie worked really well with a terrifying ending that you will never forget. Despite some minor backlash, this truly is a great horror movie. By great, I mean a movie that you will want to add to the collection and watch on a dark, late night. Load up the 'House of the Devil' and enjoy that slooooooowwww, creepy build right?!!