Saturday, October 30, 2010

The House of the Devil

Directed by Ti West.
2009. Rated R, 95 minutes.
Jocelin Donahue
Greta Gerwig
Tom Noonan
Mary Woronov
AJ Bowen
Danielle Noe

Right at the beginning of “The House of the Devil” we’re told that in the 1980s, 70% of all Americans believed in the existences of abusive Satanic cults. Abusive? Is there any other kind? Anyhoo, we’re then told the other 30% believe the lack of evidence supporting the existence of these cults is due to a government cover up. Hmm. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like they’re saying 100% of Americans believe in the extistence of Satanic cults. Maybe I’m overthinking. After all, this is just a horror flick. Let’s move on.

The very next scene introduces us to Samantha (Donahue). She’s a college student looking to move out of the dorm mostly because her roommate is a complete slob who sleeps all day, often with her boyfriend also inhaling much of Samantha’s portion of the oxygen supply. If you’ve been paying attention to the info we’ve been given and this first scene of her scouting a house to rent then you’ve already gathered that at some point she will come under siege by Satanic cultists some time during the 80s. It will likely happen in this house. Devil worshipping freaks terrorizing co-eds, I’m cool with that. My popcorn is ready.

Sam gets the house, but has to have a check for the first month’s rent to the landlady by Monday to seal the deal. Is the landlady our Satanic cultist? Nah, we never see her, or this house again.

Still, Samantha needs o come up with some cash quick. She doesn’t have a job, so no picking up extra hours there. Apparently, she doesn’t know the campus drug dealer, so no running packages over the weekend, either. She also seems to be unaware of the campus prostitution ring, or the nearby club where her friends strip to pay their tuitions, so using her body is out, also. I’m just speculating, none of this is actually in the movie. Sadly, I find myself with lots of thinking time while watching this. Hey, this artificial butter on my artificially popped popcorn is pretty good, has me licking my fingers.

Our heroine happens to stumble across a flyer soliciting a baby-sitter, calls the number and eventually gets the job. I say eventually because it takes FOREVER to get to this point. You see, during the first call, the guy on the phone sounds all in a rush and wants to meet her right away. Then he stands her up. After this, we spend an excruciating amount of time watching Samantha pal around with her bestest buddy Megan (Gerwig), engage in not so scintillating girl-talk and eat pizza. After an exceedingly long while the guy who needs a sitter calls her back hires her over the phone but the job is for tonight. I’ve got it! Whoever she’s baby sitting for are the cultists! Actually, I had this almost thirty minutes ago. I’m at that point where my bag of popcorn is half-empty and no longer hot. As a big fan of popcorn, particularly the kind created by the nuclear reactor in my kitchen most of you call a microwave, I soldier on.

Just as we think things are going to pick up, Sam and Megan have to actually drive to her new job. Oh yeah, Meg is going simply because Sam doesn’t have a car. At any rate, this place is about a million miles from campus and I think we ride along for every one of them. Is this some sort of sick joke? Did they film this thing in real time and not bother to tell us? It appears not, but I’m not so sure.

Finally, they arrive at the house only to find out there’s no baby to sit. Aiiight, here we go. It’s action time! Not really. The creepy old dude that’s played by Tom Noonan has to explain the situation, in depth. He needs the sitter for his presumably much older mom. Sam then decides she can’t do it and a lengthy negotiation takes place. Eventually, it concludes with Noonan forking over $400 and Meg leaving, all upset they had been lied to.Of course, she promises to come back and pick Sam up at the end of the night. You think she makes it?

Well, the creepy old dude and his even creepier wife, who just popped up out of nowhere, leave, letting her know about four times that they’ll be back in about four hours and the number to the pizza shop is on the fridge. Why yes, there is another scene of her eating pizza. However, it’s not before we watch her explore t he bazillion rooms in the house, one by one, rather uneventfully. My popcorn is completely gone, I’ve licked all the faux butter from my fingers, even from beneath my fingernails – don’t judge, and nothing has happened. I’m pissed.

I’ve now written way too much about this movie. I figure if I had to suffer through it, I might as well not be alone. Eventually, the creepy old couple returns and reveals themselves to indeed by Satanists, along with some random dude who gave the one vaguely interesting moment to this point, and delivered the pizza. I’m guessing he’s their son. Everything after this is just stupid. You know what? I can be evil, too. I’m not even going to fill you in on all the lunacy that wraps up the proceedings. You’ll either succumb to the agony of not knowing and see it for yourself, or go to your grave with curiosity about the exciting conclusion gnawing at your soul. Okay, maybe not.

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