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The House of the Devil

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Horror Film of the Year available on DVD.

Sam (Donahue) 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 (cult actors Noonan and Woronov) are the older couple who lure Sam out to their creaky Victorian mansion deep in the woods, just in time for a total lunar eclipse. Megan (Gerwig) 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 (Bowen) 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...

2009 Top 10 List Selections:
TimeOut New York
The Onion
Sound on Sight

At once a sly tribute to '80s-era grind-house cinema and a remarkable exercise in suspense, writer-director Ti West's House of the Devil is a terrific--and terrifying--horror film that can be enjoyed by genre fans and outsiders alike. West's premise hinges on the "Satanic panic" that gripped America during the Reagan era--in a nutshell, the urban legend posited that secret devil cults were kidnapping and sacrificing individuals by the thousands--and melds it with the tried-and-true babysitter in an old dark house scenario. The house in question is the property of the Ulmans (cult faves Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), and the babysitter (newcomer Jocelin Donahue) is needed to simply keep an eye on things--and an unseen mother upstairs--until midnight, when, coincidentally, a total eclipse will occur. But the chills that ensue--and there are plenty--are driven more by slow-building atmosphere than by the bloody effects that sum up '80s shocks. That's not to say that there isn't gore on display, but it's not the film's raison d'être; neither are the nostalgic trappings, which are kept to a tasteful minimum. The end result is a genuinely unsettling horror effort that brands West as an indie director who's more than capable of moving up to the majors. The disc includes two informative commentary tracks, the first by West and Donahue, and the other with West, producers Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter) and Peter Phok, and sound designer Graham Reznick; there's also a pair of making-of featurettes and three deleted scenes, one of which, involving the Ulmans' mother, is worth a look. The original trailer for House of the Devil, as well as spots for other Dark Sky releases, round out the extras. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jocelin Donahue
  • Directors: Ti West
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dark Sky Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 2, 2010
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002OVO18A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,627 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The House of the Devil" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Leis on October 4, 2009
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
"The House of the Devil" is an assured little film that fondly invokes horror films from the 1970s and 1980s. Many people are going to complain that this movie is slow and boring, but they are missing the joys of this type of film making completely. The best horror is a slow burn leading up to the proverbial poo hitting the whirling blades. You have time to begin to care about these characters, before something terrible happens to them and it cuts deep.

The plot: a college student is ready to move out of her dorm and into a nice rental home, but needs to make some quick cash to pay the first month's rent. Responding to a flyer requesting a babysitter, she will get much more than she bargained for.

The final twenty minutes, while rapid-paced and bloody, do not live up to the promising tension built up by the rest of the movie. However, if the end was a bit of a letdown, overall the movie was very well done. This is not the action-packed gore fest that some people might be expecting. Instead, it is a solid throwback to horror films that used setting, tone, atmosphere, character-building, and music to build up to the scary!
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on November 16, 2009
Format: DVD
You'd think a title like "The House of the Devil" would tell you everything you need to know. It does tell you a few things; this is, indeed, a story that involves evil people and hapless victims, who of course are young and female. But on the whole, this movie plays against everything you would probably expect, which in this case is a compliment. Instead of the usual gory camp fest, where idiotic teenagers are a dime a dozen, "The House of the Devil" is a quiet, slowly paced exercise in suspense, where apprehension comes not from bad things happening but from the idea of bad things happening. It's the kind of film where story plays second fiddle to style, the first hour spent on virtually nothing except establishing mood. This is good because, when there finally is a startling moment, we really do feel it.

The mood is so thoroughly established that one can't help but be somewhat disappointed by the final ten minutes, when all is explained (as best as can be explained, anyway). That's the inherent flaw with suspense: What leads up to the ending is always more frightening than the actual ending. Fortunately, the last major scene is amped up with a final shot so unnervingly ambiguous, you may find yourself clutching onto your armrest waiting for something to happen.

In spite of its fresh approach, the story effectively makes use of familiar horror movie themes. Taking place sometime during the 1980s, it tells of Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a young college student trying to make it on her own but in desperate need of cash. Lo and behold, she spots on a bulletin board a want ad for a babysitter, and when she calls, she's immediately offered the job. As is always the case, the house she goes to is old, ornate, and located deep in the woods, far, far away from any other house.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Nichols on January 11, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I attended a midnight screening of Ti West's 'House of the Devil' in Boston last weekend. I had seen a lot of press about the film which led me to watch the trailer. Seeing the inclusion of genre vets Tom Noonan, and Mary Woronov assured me that this was a film that had it's roots firmly planted in the late '70's through to the mid '80's.

The film is one that is not for those who are looking for a quick paced, gore filled scream fest. It is, however, for those who enjoy an atmospheric, character driven movie. The film does have well done effects, a very atmospheric score, and very solid cinematography.

If Mr. West is involved with the marketing of this film then I say job well done. For a film that really does feel from that era the choice to simultaneously release it on VHS as well as DVD is a great one, and for people who collect VHS, like myself, should buy this one as it comes in an over sized clamshell case.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Durham HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 9, 2010
Format: DVD
Once in a blue moon a horror film comes along that reaffirms your faith in the genre. The House of the Devil is one such film, written and directed by Ti West who gives the film a throwback look and feel, and is a delightful homage to classic suspense. The story revolves around 80s college student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) who takes a babysitting job from an odd couple (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), only to discover that her clients plan to use her in a satanic ritual. For a majority of its running time, The House of the Devil features some powerful moments of suspense and genuine terror. While its conclusion may leave something to be desired, plus some glaring plot holes as well, The House of the Devil regardless remains a worthwhile horror endeavor. All in all, if you're looking for something that will truly give you some scares, look no further then The House of the Devil, and if you're horror tastes definitely run the way of the old school, pick up this VHS/DVD bundle of the film, which is a surprising slice of nostalgiac charm.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By C. Christopher Blackshere on February 14, 2010
Format: DVD
High praises to Director Ti West with this excellent attempt. House of the Devil avoids current pratfalls and absurd, over-the-top rubbish that placates most new horror flicks. Thumbs up for that. This is more of a subtle, intelligent suspense story that will challenge your wits.

However, it's far from perfect. This movie doesn't deliver anything very original with the premise. Another college student/babysitting type of setup. But the idea of a satanic cult touches on a sensitive nerve that is all too disturbing.

But the Devil never really gets his due. This movie has solid acting, good character development, and creepy sound effects. Unfortunately, not much of a payoff for your patience. The story tiptoes along, and finally reaches a frightening bloody climax. Too bad it ends so abruptly.

Overall, House of the Devil is a well told story that includes a little gore. Just not much else happening. 3.5 stars.
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Topic From this Discussion
Subtitles ? / Sous-Titres ?
There are English and Espanol subtitles, but no Francias subtitles. Hope this helps. :D
Jun 17, 2010 by compsciguy |  See all 3 posts
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