Tuesday, 5 November 2013

House Of The Devil - dvd review

Take one babysitter, add a spooky house in the middle of nowhere and throw in the feel of a load of early 80s horror films and you have The House of the Devil. While not a lift from any one particular film, the ingredients are so familiar that the result feels like a remake of every horror film made pre video ratings. Remember when pirate copies were swapped between friends and people waited for the babysitter to ignore the premise of the title - Don't Go In The...by going in the cellar/attic/basement/woods/cupboard/toilet/shed and so on. House of the Devil is a throwback to those films and should work well. Sadly, it doesn't.

The set up gets things going nicely: college girl Sam needs some cash for an apartment. A babysitting job comes her way and when it's revealed the `baby' is actually an elderly woman in a giant house, most of us would tell Mr Spooky and his equally spooky wife we're not interested. Of course, Sam needs the money and as this is a horror film, we know she'll take the cash and stay in the house. Cue a decent atmosphere that suggests the horrors to come and cue a very well done feel for the early 80s. Unfortunately, this atmosphere, while the film's great strength, is also its biggest weakness. The director and writer seems to be so set on evoking the feel of the time and therefore the feel of the films that inspired him that he forgets to have anything happen for a huge chunk of the film. Sam wanders around the house, dances in an 80s kind of way, watches some 80s news and uses an 80s phone and...that's about it in terms of events. It's got a great feel to it but a film, especially a horror film, should not rely on atmosphere alone.

Watch HOTD for a nostalgia trip or to get a feel of horror films that may be before your time. Just don't watch it expecting anything too impressive.

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