Ti West’s 2009 film “The House of the Devil” is a tension-filled masterpiece that’s set in 1983. It’s what you’d call a slow-burn movie, with most of the action taking place in the third act, but boy is it worth the wait (and the wait hardly even feels like one!).
Jocelin Donahue carries most of this movie as Samantha, a broke college student who needs money to pay for an apartment. At the urging of her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig), she finds a posting on campus for a babysitting job and takes it. As you might expect from a horror movie, the house is in the middle of nowhere and the couple is acting strangely. It’s soon revealed to Samantha that this isn’t a typical babysitting job; instead, she’s expected to stay at the house to make sure nothing happens to the owner’s elderly mother. While she’s told that she is unlikely to see the woman, who is supposed to stay in her room upstairs, they’d just feel safer with someone else staying. Samantha is clearly uncomfortable that she’d been lied to at first, but the couple offers her so much money that she can’t possibly refuse.
This 95-minute movie is bathed in dread. Even when nothing is happening, it feels like darkness is just around the corner. Those of us who watch a lot of horror movies know that your mind can play tricks on you, and a lone babysitter in a home in the middle of nowhere is the perfect target for some pretty bad things. This is the perfect film for someone who wants an entire atmosphere of terror, not just the occasional jump scare.
Whether or not you can predict what direction “The House of the Devil” is heading, it’s a wild ride and one that is very worth it. It’s a bit of an under-the-radar film for casual movie watchers, which is yet another reason to check it out for Halloween. It also makes a great horror movie to watch during an eclipse…but I won’t say too much about that.