The House of the Devil
(2009, Dir. by Ti West.)
Why It's Here:
I'm not a guy who throws high praise on newer movies too often. Well, I generally do praise the ones I truly dig, but it's very rarely that I will throw them ahead of lifelong favorites when I'm doing things like list-making. So I'm still kind of telling myself to slow down and not go so fast when it comes to The House of the Devil. But, the thing is, I've already seen this movie like six times in three years and every time I'm more convinced that it's the best thing to happen to horror in a long time. Ti West's meticulous chiller is endlessly fascinating to me, primarily because of the fantastic restraint shown by the director and his cast.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
Sometimes, the moments in horror that really work are the moments that don't have anything to do with the horror. One such example comes near the middle of this film, where Jocelin Donahue's lead character provides a break to the unending unease by dancing around the old, ominous house to The Fixx's One Thing Leads To Another. In a film that's packed with silence, this interlude actually adds to the tension by making us wonder what impact her carefree nature will have on her once the fearful stuff kicks back in.
It Makes an Excellent Double Feature With:
They really don't make 'em like this too often, which makes me feel like I should think back to past horrors when considering a partner for the film. Beautiful young woman meets slow and satanic terrors worked similarly well in 1977's The Sentinel, and - if nothing else - you can compare and contrast how city and country cults differ in methodology.
What It Means To Me:
I talk down to modern horror all the time, and really shouldn't. There's a ton of good stuff out there, it's just hard to find it sometimes. The House of the Devil doesn't help its contemporaries out, because it's such a fantastic reminder of how good a horror film can be if it focuses its energy on the right things. I'll take extreme tension over extreme gore every day of the week, which is just one of the reasons I give The House of the Devil such a big edge over most recent horror films.