A Witch Month Slasher Honey Review by Chassity
The House of the Devil (2009)
You can’t be a hardcore slasher fan without having a healthy appreciation for all things that encompassed 80s American culture. It was a decade that gave us arguably the best that the slasher genre has to offer.
This explains why so much of the horror genre over the past ten to fifteen years has been filmmakers attempting to pay tribute to pretty much every scary flick from ’80 to ’89. And as much griping as all of us Honeys, and other genre nuts, do about this, you can’t really blame them, at least, for the desire. We can only hope that Hollywood takes lessons from that decade and creates something original out of it.
Enter The House of the Devil. Set in the 80s (and remarkably successful at this, considering), my final flick for Witch Month is one that’s part satanic in nature, suspense-centered, borderline supernatural, and plays out almost like a slasher. If you haven’t seen it and are scratching your head at that last statement, just trust me on this and go with it for a second.
College student Samantha Hughes has just gotten her first apartment and, in preparation for her move-in date, decide to look for a job because she now needs the money. Now, I always thought that securing employment was something you were supposed to do BEFORE getting a place, but, whatevs. Anyway, she sees a flier for someone in need of a babysitter, and calls to apply.
Here’s where things get weird already. The guy on the phone with her sounds sketchy as hell, and the flier has almost no information about the position. Call me paranoid, but that would be enough to make me disregard the position altogether.
But, no, Samantha persists. Even after being stood up the first time she was supposed to meet with the child’s parents, she still takes the job and finds out that…well, let’s just say that the poor girl has been lied to. It becomes clear from the moment she and her friend arrive on the property that they have made a huge mistake.
And that encompasses my only small issue with The House of the Devil. The film uses a subtle, slightly awkward yet slightly uneasy-in-a-scary-way vibe to build suspense. Which is good, great even, except for the little detail that it makes our main character look pretty stupid. All the suspense, all the solitude, and even the freaky hair standing up on the back off your neck feeling you get as soon as you hear Mr. Ulman’s (Samantha’s employer) voice, and every time thereafter. While it’s true that we live in a more aware, skeptical, distrusting world now, and safety and street smarts were still a thing even in the 80s, and it’s completely unrealistic that someone would allow a stranger to be left alone with their children based on one phone call. That alone should have given Samantha pause. Some subscribe to the belief that main characters don’t have to be likable in order for a film to be both relatable and enjoyable. Yours truly does not. It’s easier to root for people you like, and it’s also difficult to like someone who does illogical things that frustrate you.
|This is not a cute look.|
Other than that, House of the Devil has everything to recommend it. It has a lot of similarities to slashers with more mystery, and it’s slow burn in a good way. Even in moments when there’s really nothing going on, you’ll find yourself still glued to the screen, aching to know that the next move is going to be, and the next scene is going to bring. And the satanic, witch-inspired elements pay off as well as can be expected.
And there’s a lesson to be learned: baby-sitting should only be a thing in Scholastic books written by Ann M. Martin