I’m incredibly generous to films. Especially horror. There’s almost always something I find to appreciate. A character actor killing it way harder than she needs to. Model pretty extras. Homage gore effects. And I’m way too soft on these nostalgia slashers.
But this bullshit I just watched, The House of the Devil, was a complete and total chore to endure.
The lead actress, Jocelin Donahue, is an emo-twee Megan Fox. I know how sexy that sounds, but it does not work. Her sidekick, played by sexy Greta Gerwig, reminds me a tiny bit of the girl who played Debbie in Debbie Does Dallas.
HERE ARE A FEW SPOILERS, BUT THEY REALLY AREN’T BAD:
I thought the villain played by Tom Noonan was going to be great. He was a letdown. Noonan’s villains start out slow like he does in this film, but ramp up into high crazy territory. Once there, he oscillates between totally manic and childishly silent. But in this he just says a few creepy lines, drops in with a druid robe, and basically nothing else.
There are other people in this movie, but they were so drab I can’t even remember what they look like. I believe there’s some sort of smooth skin Powder looking-ass Boo Radley demon, but who can say? I may have been sucked into a boredom black hole.
I’m no super duper cinematographer, but I felt something off. This film’s camera movement is undisciplined kitsch. Clunky familiar. I can’t tell if its exaggeration is fun or not. It’s sort of like a white guy doing Eddie Murphy’s white guy voice. It’s reality mocking satire mocking reality. Or something stupid like that. I guess it felt too digital for my tastes. A mild treatment like Rob Zombie uses might have dirtied it up enough to feel more 80s.
One weird thing that happened to me is that I started to think the lead actress’ mom jeans were sort of cute. I don’t know if it was all the silly dancing around with the Walkman, but I might have to reconsider my hatred of high wasted jeans.
Ti West directed this film. I kind of liked his other movie, The Sacrament. I listened to a couple interviews with him to hear if I could figure out anything more about this one. He says he likes a slow, realistic movie, that he’s not in a rush to get to the horror. I guess. Or he could just be boring as fuck.
This is another movie, like Neon Demon, was shot sequentially. I don’t know what it does, but I think this most certainly has some effect on the feel of the whole film. I wonder if it’s sort of like what happened to my buddy Jon when he wrote an 80 page comic. His artwork had improved so much by the middle of the comic, he went back to the beginning and started over with better skill. I don’t think this movie went back to the beginning, but imagine what it must be like at the end of a shoot. You’d be totally blown out.
I think that might be why this film’s pace reminded me a bit of Neon Demon’s. Though, let’s be real, the latter was light years ahead of this one.
Marc reminded me that this 2009 film was released close to the beginning of the nostalgia horror boom. It’s possible I would’ve loved this movie if I had seen it years ago, before It Follows and Stranger Things.
I’m honestly surprised the kooks over at American Horror Story didn’t go full on 80s. I could write that show. It’s basically going to be Saved By the Bell meets The Hunger meets The Outsiders meets Teen Wolf with 80s prep vampires against greaser werewolves. Jessica Lange will be some sort of granddaughter of Van Helsing.
Another good AHS setting could be a lake camp. So it looks like it’s going to go Friday the 13th, except it goes full on Deliverance before it veers into full on rural horror with the worship of a primordial fungus god.
I really wish making up that kind of nonsense was my job.