A cheeky and delightfully scary homage to 80s horror movies, The House of the Devil delighted genre fans after its world premiere at TFF 2009. Helmed by indie horror auteur Ti West, this atmospheric film embraces a series of delightful tropes from 80s horror flicks (including the ever-popular babysitter-in-peril storyline) with a wink and a nod to its audience.
House of the Devil features Samantha (Jocelin Donahue of Insidious Part 2 fame) is a pleasant, feather-haired, college student in desperate need of money. Encouraged by her best friend (Great Gerwig) to respond to a babysitter ad, Samantha is reluctant but knows she has to make the rent. When she arrives to go to work,, she finds a scary old house and an employer (genre icon Tom Noonan) who informs her that there is no child to watch, just his elderly mother-in-law. Little does she know she has unwittingly become a target for a group of Devil worshipers.
Samantha settles in for a tension-filled night of bumps, moans and creaks in the spooky house. Trying to draw up enough courage to investigate, Samantha puts on her Walkman and blasts The Fixx’s 'One Thing Leads to Another.' She literally dances away her fears and troubles as she bops from room to room. It’s a cathartic moment of temporary relief for both Samantha and the audience.
Donahue is more than game as the frightened Samantha, and West, known for his patience as a filmmaker, wisely takes his time with the pacing, allowing the sense of dread to build during this signature scene. The audience knows Samantha’s rockin’ good time will come to a screeching end, but they enjoy the ride anyway. Devil worshipers are such a buzz kill.