Found below are three reviews of the 2009 indie horror film, The House of the Devil, written by Lewis University students Alec Pace, Kayla Carson, and Gabrielle Vasilevskis.
The House of the Devil is amethodically structured film that highlights the monstrosities of the human psyche. Although the film’s slow-paced narrative may seem daunting to a viewer’s attention span, the director’s elaborate storytelling and strikingly visual ending make the viewing worthwhile. From the beginning, we are placed in Ti West’s homage to the 1980s as Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) walks back to her dorm room while listening to her Walkman. This is not the film’s only relationship to the 1980s as it was shot on 16mm film, which gives it a similar grainy look as many vintage films did in that era.
These retro elements of the film present feelings of nostalgia and intertextuality to films such as Halloween 1978, especially in relation to voyeurism. From the beginning, it seems that Samantha is being violated when Mr. Ulman stands her up at the school and lies to her about the details of the babysitting job. By this point in the film, Samantha is already the victim, before even confronting the two demons of the house. As Samantha’s stay in the Ulman’s house continues, she is forced deeper into a dark pattern by uncovering insightful clues on who the owners of the house really are. By halfway through the film, Samantha is already helpless; every time she comes closer to the truth of why she’s there, there is already someone one step ahead of her. That person is Victor Ulman, who we share the perspective of as we see Samantha sitting on the couch through the window. Not only does this first-person shot share elements to the opening scene of Halloween 1978, but it also puts the audience in the shoes of the violator.
Recently, we featured reviews from two students on the 2009 film The House of the Devil. Below is another perspective on the same film, written by Jet Fuel Review Managing Editor Sam Gennett.
For film fans who are nostalgic for the ‘80s but are tired of re-watching Halloween to get their retro-horror fill, Ti West’s The House of the Devil (2009) is a refreshing rejuvenation of late ‘70s and early ‘80s horror. Shot on 16 mm film, this movie seems to have been teleported from the ‘80s into the 21st century. With the grainy film look, dim cinematography, and use of Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart,” West brings viewers back to the good ol’ days of flannel, indoor ashtrays, and Satan worship.
Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), desperate for money, takes a babysitting job, but didn’t we all learn what happens when you babysit after watching Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting (1987)? Clearly, Samantha missed that film because she coerces her friend into driving her to a house in the middle of nowhere. They pass a cemetery on their way there, and the shot is briefly superimposed over the establishing shot of the house, effectively foreshadowing events to come.Continue reading →
Below are two Lewis University students’ perspectives on the 2009 horror film The House of the Devil.
Get Your Paper Bags Ready
House of the Devil takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. You start by comfortably strapping into the relatable college environment, listening to the deafening, upbeat ’80s soundtrack, and awaiting the thrill. Once you’re secure and devoted without an exit, you begin by slowly traveling into heightened suspense and elevated anxiety as you become aware of the climactic drop that is inevitably in front of you. Once you reach the top, you get a few short moments to gasp and take your last breath before you’re consumed by the full-speed terror, teased without knowing what twists and turns may come next. Finally, you’re abruptly halted as the ride has come to a stop.