Sam is a pretty college sophomore, so desperate to earn some cash for a deposit on an apartment that she accepts a babysitting job even after she finds out there is no baby. Mr. and Mrs. Ulman are the older couple who lure Sam out to their creeky Victorian mansion deep in the woods, just in time for a total lunar eclipse. Megan is Sam’s best friend, who gives her a ride out to the house, and reluctantly leaves her there despite suspecting that something is amiss. Victor at first seems like just a creepy guy lurking around the house, but quickly makes it clear that Sam will end this night in a bloody fight for her life....
I anxiously awaited seeing The House of the Devil. It seemed to promise to be a kind of throwback to 80's devil worshipper movies and have the vibe of Rosemary's Baby. Well, that it did. But not in a good way.
The movie started out promising with an early 80's-looking title sequence that felt like the movie was actually made during that time period. To be honest, I can't say that the cinematography has anything to do with why this movie just doesn't work.
The main reason the movie doesn't work is because nothing ever happens for the first hour and twenty minutes of the film. Basically, the "babysitter" is just walking around this big dark house looking in rooms. Needless to say, she doesn't find much and then all the sudden, ten minutes before the movie ends, this thing becomes a sort of gorier version of Rosemary's Baby mixed with those crazy demon face flashing images from The Exorcist. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing original here. The demon even looks like one from the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Even the acting is really good in this movie. Tom Noonan does a great job at being a creepy old man that you can't trust. His wife, played by genre veteran Mary Woronov, is also disturbing and has that "way too calm so she's got to be crazy" thing down pat. Jocelin Donahue plays the lead role and goes through many different emotions in the film and really does convincingly with any of them. Dee Wallace was in this for such a short amount of time, it was basically a waste for them to even get her for the role of the Landlady. I think she is literally in the film a sum total of maybe three minutes.
Can I consciously recommend you see The House of the Devil? Not really. It's just not a very good movie. I found about 80% of it to be completely lackluster and an incredible bore. It's a real bummer because the film really did look promising in the trailers and such. If you must insist on seeing this for yourself, I would wait for it to hit DVD and get it for one of your free rental nights with Redbox. I can guarantee you, if you rent this through VOD, you're going to be so mad afterwards you might not be able to forgive yourself. (Review by Eric Shirey)
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