The House of the Devil (2009)

The negotiation.

The negotiation.

I’d seen The House of the Devil about a year ago, and it keeps popping up in the Netflix instant queue. When I told Q that it “wasn’t bad, Mary Woronov’s in it” it moved to the top of the list.

Like Beyond the Black RainbowThe House of the Devil is, in part, an homage to horror films from the 70’s and 80’s. It faithfully recreates the 1980’s down to the music, the clothes, the grainy film and the zeitgeist. It starts off with a blurb about a nation freaking out about Satanic cults, giving us an indication of what kind of movie we’re in for.

Samantha Hughes is a sophomore in college. She has about $84 in her bank account and shares a dorm



room with a promiscuous girl who’s always locking her out. Luckily, her new landlady (Dee Wallace) is nice enough to give her the weekend to come up with $300 for the deposit on her new place. Wandering around campus, she finds a flyer advertising a babysitting job and hopes she’ll be able to build up that bank account a bit.

On the night of a total lunar eclipse, her friend Megan is kind enough to drive Samantha to the Ulman’s house, which is way out in the boonies. Samantha agrees if anything’s fishy, they’ll split. Well, things definitely get fishy – Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) admits this isn’t exactly a babysitting job, instead they need someone to watch his wife’s (Mary Woronov)

Dude, why are you even gonna open that door?!?!?!

Dude, why are you even gonna open that door?!?!?!

elderly mother.  Mr. Ulman and Samantha are both desperate, he for a sitter, she for cash. She negotiates to do the job for $400 and sends a protesting Megan out the door. Needless to say, a few hours “alone” in the house reveal a secret or two, and it isn’t long before Samantha realizes she’s in some deep shit.

This movie was even better the second time around. It takes a while for the action to get going, but that’s exactly what roped me in; the way it’s shot left me in total suspense: what’s behind that door? What’s that noise? Should she eat that pizza? Don’t worry, it pays off in the end, and it’s entertaining all the way there. It’s funny, shocking, scary, and suspenseful. I guess 80’s nostalgia isn’t all bad.


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