If you have ever sampled the delights of the likes of the Horror Channel, you know to expect such celluloid art forms as Giant Crocodiles Ate my Husband and Zombies Are in Your Wardrobe, Trying on Your Shoes. The House of the Devil is one of those films, but the thing about it which has driven me to review it, rather than put it in the brain film cupboard and close the doors on it forever, is that I just can’t decide if it’s terribly excellent, or excellently terrible.
The film’s plotline follows the classic horror model of babysitting and Satanist rituals. The plot is utterly predictable, but with little splurges of humour. Again, I’m not entirely sure if this was intentional, but it does add to the general sense of ‘so bad it’s good’. The end is of course a total anti-climax and makes a pretty useless attempt at delving into ‘ultimate sacrifice’ philosophy. The end also sets up the potential for a sequel, which is something I absolutely loathe, but goddamn… I think I might just think this film is awesome.
The film was made in 2009, but is set in the 1980s. Which is fine. There’s 80s hairdos, fashions, settings, music, food, language. Which is also fine. The thing that makes me flail about in an absurd manner however, is that it is also shot in the style of the 1980s. Which is generally also fine… but is just so utterly convincing that when 2009 rolled up on the credits I had to roll around on the floor for a few hours shouting ‘Why?’ just to try and rationalise the four hours I’d just wasted. Why, with such attention to detail to essentially recreate the 1980s, couldn’t any money be spent on plot development? Special effects? And why, in the name of God, had I enjoyed this film so much?!
The only conclusion I can come to is that the film is incredibly clever, but somehow I still struggle to believe it. It is either really good, or awfully, awfully bad, but neither category can seem to do justice to the totally engrossing pizza-eating, 80s bopping, stabby-mac-stabby-running-through-a-graveyard-covered-in-blood-esque cinematic masterpiece that is the House of the Devil. Perhaps the fact that I have no idea what to think is a positive reflection on the film; when I think about the nonsensical plot that only seems to be legitimate for the 1980s, combined with the gut-wrenching realisation that the film was only made three years ago, I foam at the mouth slightly with confusion.
The director of this film is clearly a genius, as every single shot, every set-up was deliberate. The fact that I kept yelling at my Tivo box for lying to me about the year the film was made just goes to show that either I am a gullible moron, or sometimes the worst films can bring out the most extreme emotions. I like to think it’s the latter. We might just have a cult classic on our hands.
8/10 – I’m still confused, but I enjoyed the film and I’d watch it again, which is probably all that matters. Probably.