We are living in a good time for horror. With It bringing in $123 million in its opening weekend, studios will be a lot more confident giving the greenlight to more horror films in the next few years. The backbone of modern horror, Halloween is getting some fresh blood with a new movie reprising Jamie Lee Curtis as the lead and executive produced by the original (and iconic) director John Carpenter.
With the influx of interest in the genre, I really hope people are willing to invest in new stories instead of countless franchise reboots. One movie in particular, has been the most fresh and exciting horror film released since Scream in 1996. That movie is Ti West’s The House of the Devil, an indie flick released in 2009 that has gained a cult following.
The premise of the movie is a young college girl, Samantha, who is desperate to earn some money to move out of the dorms and into her own place. Despite a few red flags, she takes a babysitting job at a secluded house in the country, even after the man who hired her reveals her charge is not a child at all, but his elderly mother “who will be asleep the whole time”. Alone in the house, let’s just say to avoid spoilers everything is not as it seems.
The time period of the film is the 1980s, which lends itself perfectly to it’s vintage horror vibe. We’re taken back to a time when satanic panic ruled and strangers were truly strange. Even the simple concept of taking the viewer out of the safe zone of their own time period sets the whole movie up to have a vibe of unease. Everything is scarier when you don’t have a cell phone. This was the first movie to truly scare me in a long time.
The House of the Devil has another distinct vintage feel: it just feels like a movie people put a lot of care into making. The cinematography is true to the time period the plot is set in, the dialogue feels authentic, and the scares don’t come cheap. The suspense throughout the film is also something older filmmakers were experts in doing, an element that consistently feels lacking in newer films. When it was released, Roger Ebert compared the style to Hitchcock’s classics, saying, “an introduction for some audience members to the Hitchcockian definition of suspense.”
If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the trailer: