Friday, August 13, 2010


The House of the Devil
  • official poster
  • The House of the Devil
A coed struggling to pay her rent ends up taking the wrong part-time job in writer-director Ti West's old-school 1980s-set horror flick, The House of the Devil. Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a sweet-natured and retiring young woman, unlike her rambunctious, loud, and self-assured best buddy, Megan (mumblecore stalwart Greta Gerwig). After moving into a new apartment, Samantha is desperate for a way to make a few more bucks. When Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) comes on campus looking for a babysitter, Samantha jumps at the opportunity. Once she convinces Megan to give her a ride to the creepy old Ulman house, Samantha learns that the job is not quite what was advertised. Ulman and his wife (Mary Woronov) don't even have a child. He tells Samantha that she just has to stay in the house with his elderly mother-in-law while he and the missus go out to celebrate the lunar eclipse. When she balks at the change of plans, he offers her more money. As the night goes on, it becomes clear that Samantha is a much bigger part of the Ulmans' plans for the evening than she would ever want to be. West established his genre credentials with low-budget cult favorites The Roost (which also starred Noonan) and Trigger Man. The House of the Devil also stars A.J. Bowen and Dee Wallace. The movie had its world premiere in the Midnight section of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. – All Movie Guide
54% liked it

R, 1 hr. 33 min.

Director: Ti West

August 8, 2010: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Not too long ago, I made mention that “if I had to pick my top five horror movies of 2009, House Of The Devil would definitely make the cut.” Here’s why.

For my money, this is one of the best realizations of Alfred Hitchcock’s “bomb theory” ever put to film. “A bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it” Hitchcock explained, “probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one… The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!" For Hitchcock, building tension involves the audience in a film more than sudden shocks.

The first 80 minutes of The House Of The Devil is almost entirely ticking bomb. Along with the title (oh, what a giveaway), the movie begins with the words, “During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults.” So, in the first ten seconds you see the bomb planted, you know exactly what the main character has in store for her. You just don’t know when. And you wait and you wait while she walks around her college, goes to the titular house, watches TV, orders a pizza, explores all the rooms, looks out the windows. Honestly, if you prefer quick cuts and jump scares in your horror movies, then you’ll likely find this film excruciatingly dull. But if you enjoy suspense, lots and lots and lots and lots of… well, you get the idea. If you like that, then this is THE movie for you.

And really, as Christians, waiting for a big payoff should be no problem. Every reading this week has something to do with patiently biding our time until God delivers on His promises. “However, there are very different ways of waiting.” Pope Benedict XVI reminds us. “If time is not filled by a present gifted with meaning, the waiting runs the risk of becoming unbearable; if something is expected, but at this moment there is nothing, namely, if the present is empty, every instant that passes seems exaggeratedly long, and the waiting is transformed into a weight that is too heavy because the future is totally uncertain. When, instead, time is gifted with meaning and we perceive in every instant something specific and valuable, then the joy of waiting makes the present more precious.” Christian waiting is active, not passive. We don’t sit on our butts until God pops in with a big musical cue and shouts BOO. Instead, we constantly work on our salvation with fear and trembling and with a growing sensation that something big is coming. It’s coming. We just don’t know when.


Anonymous said...

Good one! Esp. like that you got the joy of waiting and the fear & trembling. 'Though when I read "joy of waiting", what popped into my head was the countdown till school resumes for some my small aliens....

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Yep, joy & fear. We Catholics sure do like our paradoxes don't we :)

S_Cobbler said...

Incidentally it just so happens that the "bomb theory" was formerly known as dramatic irony. Hitchcock was Greek and didn't know it! (Or maybe he did know it?)

EegahInc said...

That, or he just stole from them. I mean he completely ripped off that Aristophanes fellow, didn't he :)

massage viborg said...

As an Christians, waiting for a big payoff should be no problem at all.