Thursday, July 8, 2010
Review:House of the Devil(Blu-ray)
My second review of this movie but this time I had the pleasure of seeing it on blu-ray and what a treat it was.The film itself is phenomenal and the blu-ray really adds to it despite some concerns I had about it maybe losing some of that 80s grainy retro look.
The film starts with this flashing across the screen .....During the 1980s, over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive satanic cults. Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups...the following is based on true unexplained events.
With this and the fact that the film is called House of the devil we the viewer know something bad and ominous must be at work here.
Probably set time sometime in the 1980's we first meet college student Sam(the adorable Jocelin Donahue)who is in the midst of getting her first apartment.Like any other college student she is struggling with an annoying roomate and of course is strapped for the cash she needs for her new apartment.She sees an add on a billboard at her college for a job babysitting.Seeems easy enough right?And before long she is well on her way to the isolated Ulman mansion on the eve of the upcoming lunar eclipse for what she thinks is a painless and quick babysitting.And she soon does find out that her employers have some..well different plans for her.
So many things stand out about this film but the main one that I love the most would have to be the authentic 80's look of the film.Ti West really,really hit the nail on the head with the look,if you didn't know this film was made in 2009 and you started watchuing this you may very well believe that this is an 80s movie.Everything from the outfits,the feathered hair,the walkman,the old coca-cola cups,the old yellow rotary phone to even the yellow opening credits screams 80's.Even the house where Sam babysits is dipped in the 80s.The yellow-mustardy dull interior colors remind me of my grandpa and grandmas place.West really knew what he wanted and tracked down numerous items on ebay to make it that much more authentic.
Another great thing West does is he really takes his time building up his story.It's a slow-burn and It may not be for all,and for those looking for something more evildeady or something more filled with cheap scares,I suggest you look elsewhere.But to me West's simple character driven approach is a breath of fresh air,as we get to know Sam fairly well early on and get a real feel for her character. I also loved how he takes time letting the viewer soak in the atmosphere of the house via Sam as she explores it.And a large portion of the film is just that,"watching Sam in the house".West also gives subtle little hints that something may not be right without fully hitting you over the head with it.I've read numerous reviews saying its to slow but that's exactly what West wanted.That's the type of film he was aiming for.He wasn't going for cheap scares and glossy shots,instead trading those in for genuine dread and genuine fear as he places you in its characters shoes.You constantly ask yourself,"would I have done that?"And trust me the final half and hour is well worth the wait.
The acting here is superb as well.Newcomer Jocelin Donahue is brilliant as Sam,she's very likable and very easy on the eyes and perhaps a bit naive at times.Her friend Megan(Greta Gerwig) is also very good as the maybe little too loud and to sarcastic friend.And of course we have Tom Noonan as Mr Ulman,who really is creepy but in a way that's not too obvious,and Mary Woronov as the peculiar Mrs Ulman.And Dee Wallace as the landl;ady was a nice little touch.
The Blu-ray video quality I was a little concerned with how this might look on blu-ray considering this is a film that relishes in that murky-faded 80s look.But the blu-ray really keeps that look alive and well while adding nice details on close ups of people and objects.So blu-ray buyers don't be concerned with the huge amount of grain on display,that's suppose to be there and is part of the look that West wanted.So shoulds you buy the blu-ray or dvd?Definitely the blu-ray if you own a player or ps3,its only a few dollars more and the picture is better,more detailed and a more realistic of 80's horror movies
Audio commentaries-One with Jocelin Donahue and Ti West which is very interesting as they discuss everything including the crazy 18 day shoot.The other commentary is Ti West,sound designer Graham Resnik, and producers Larry Fessenden and Peter Phok.
Deleted scenes-a few,nothing really worth of mentioning
In the house of the devil-Behind the scenes look at sound and set design,makeup and gore effects
Behind the House of the devil-Interviews with Jocelin Donahue and Greta Gerwig
Buy the movie on blu-ray,it's a great throwback with great tension,good acting and a well worth conclusion and fans of classics will definitely enjoy and appreciate this.