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when staying in the house of the devil, feel free to use the knives of the devil...

when staying in the house of the devil, feel free to use the knives of the devil...


Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Greta Gerwig

Megan: I’m so sick of hearing about that stupid eclipse.  It’s like all anybody can ever talk about.  They’re like, “gosh, are you gonna go see the eclipse tonight?  Berrrrrrr…”  You know, it’s not like the moon’s gonna explode!  Though…that would be pretty cool.

Samantha (Donahue) is a college girl who is just about to move into a new apartment and needs some quick money.  She happens upon a mysterious, but high paying, babysitting job and gets her friend Megan (Gerwig) to drive her out to the remote house.  This proves to be a bad decision.

You have to hand it to writer/director Ti West, the man had a vision and pulled it off almost flawlessly.  The vision was to create a modern movie that looks and feels like it’s taken straight out of the late 70s or early 80s.  From the opening credits to the hair and clothing style to the washed out look of the cinematography, it all looks and feels exactly as it should.  Only the last 10 minutes seems to jump back into a more modern style of film making.

There are very few false scares here (the kind with the big music hits).  Instead, the fear is generated by the slowly building sense of doom you sense enveloping Samantha.  As she notices small clues that maybe not everything is as it seems, her first instinct is to call 911, but then she convinces herself that she’s just overreacting and panicking.  I liked the fact that the movie showed she wasn’t just a stupid bumbling victim, but knew things seemed weird and started investigating.  Though, her friend Megan calls out her stupidity early on when they arrive and find out it’s not so much babysitting as it is looking after an elderly woman hidden away in a bedroom.  Probably a good warning sign that these folks aren’t on the level.

Speaking of Megan, this is the second time I’ve seen Greta Gerwig in a movie, and she was entertaining both times.  Though, if you’re not the main actor in a scary movie, you never want to be the most likable character.  That usually means trouble.  Jocelin Donahue is also a relatively unknown actress, and she looks like she could have just stepped out of the 70s.  I thought she did a good job here, especially in the more subtle moments as her worry grows.

There are no monsters or ghosts involved, but there are crazy cultists (and yeah, the hint of some supernatural stuff), which to me is actually scarier.  Some might grow bored of the slow first half of the movie, but I enjoyed the slow build leading up to the arrival at the house and then the eventual revelation that Samantha is in a bit of trouble.

It’s not groundbreaking or a thrill-a-minute, but it’s a nice reminder of how horror movies used to be before special effects, loud music, and an overdose of atmosphere took over.

Don’t pull over in a random cemetery in the middle of nowhere just to have a quick smoke.

10 – 1 because yeah it’s slow here and there – 1.2 because the end seems a little rushed and not in the same tone as the rest of the movie – .2 for not being the most original plot in the world = 7.6