Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Because Reality TV is Lame.

//By Anna Krutzik//

If you are like me, then it doesn't even matter what films are being released on DVD today because all you can think about is the season premiere of Lost tonight on ABC beginning at 7pm. I mean, does anyone else hear that ticking sound? That's the deafening crescendo of the hands on your wristwatch, ever so slowly ticking down the seconds until you can turn on your TV tonight and your life is complete. The title of this Tuesday blog post says it all: because reality TV is lame, watch Lost.

But if you want to rent a DVD tomorrow to take your mind off of the long week ahead until the next episode of Lost airs (Tuesday nights, 8pm) then you should definitely rent The House of the Devil, a delightful throwback to the heyday of '80s horror films and an Official Selection at the 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival. The film is directed by Ti West who at only 29 years old already has four feature films under his belt and is steadily making a name for himself as a new master of horror. Jocelin Donahue plays the central character, Samantha, who accepts a shady babysitting job at the last last minute on the night of a full lunar eclipse to get the money she desperately needs to move into her dream one-bedroom apartment. And actually, that pretty much is the whole plot. So to recap: young college girl, babysitting, alone, night of lunar eclipse, huge old house. That is all it takes to set the stage for one of the scariest films I've seen in a long, long time.

I was fortunate enough to see this film at its Midnight screening to a packed house at the Oriental Theatre during the 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival. The look and feel of the film seemed to be very authentic '80s, from the music to the hair and clothes, even the use of camera and editing resembled a time when people had longer attention spans than today's current YouTube generation. The film does an amazing job at building extreme tension out of virtually nothing, following Samantha as she explores the house, tries to delay boredom and put herself at ease, playing on the audiences' sense of dread and knowledge of the inevitable (it is called The House of the Devil, that should be your first clue). Which is the other thing I love about this film, the title. It's slightly over the top, and yet sort of comes across as confidence, as in "FACT: this is the devil's house" and you can't help but keep that in the back of your mind through the entire film. The tagline on the film's promotional poster reads: Talk on the phone. Finish your homework. Watch TV. DIE. Brilliant. Simple. I love it. The expectation of horror and tension is building before you even press play on this DVD.

If you're the type of person who enjoys that moment in a horror film when you just have to look away from the screen because you know something bad is about to happen and you simply can't stand the tension of waiting for it, then you will love this movie because the entire film is that moment. (A quick tip: If you have a boyfriend, and he has a shoulder, it definitely helps to be clutching his shoulder in a deathgrip for the first 40 minutes of this film to relieve that tension, otherwise it might be too much for you.) And if you're not that person, it should be worth sitting through this movie anyway because the ending definitely delivers on what the title promises and does not disappoint.

All in all, The House of the Devil is a must see for horror fans, '80s fans, and Lost fans suffering withdrawal.

*In an attempt to harness even more of the spirit of the '80s (which is almost impossible at this point) The House of the Devil is being released on a special edition VHS tape (that's right, VHS, like the thing you need a VCR for) in addition to the standard DVD and Blu-ray DVD. Awesome!

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