The House of the Devil Ti West

The House of the Devil Ti West
Ti West may have failed trying to sequelize Cabin Fever, but he needn't worry ― if he's to be remembered for something it will be this brilliant little throwback horror film. The House of the Devil has a familiar premise: college student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) needs money to pay the rent. She answers an ad for a babysitting job. When she gets to the house, the creepy Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) tells her that there's no baby and she'd actually be watching over his elderly mother for the night. Samantha orders a pizza, begins to get spooked and suddenly passes out. When she awakens she realizes that the Ulmans are devil worshippers and Samantha is their sacrificial lamb. The House of the Devil doesn't resort to any cheap thrills, gratuitous violence, trick camera work or hackneyed plot devices. It's a rare find these days: a horror flick that painstakingly considers every element and executes them perfectly. West utilizes the '80s aesthetic and never lets go, keeping consistency in everything from the yellow font in the opening credits and Jeff Grace's chilling score to the authentic production design and the good old original scare tactics. Of course, having Eliot Rockett shoot it on 16mm film gives it that added chilling effect and beautifully dated look. But what West has achieved shouldn't be such an anomaly; it's simple, devoted filmmaking done right, which is as much of an homage to '80s horror as any of his creative decisions (well, with the exception of releasing it on limited edition VHS tape). The director appears on both commentary tracks, which seems like a lot to take in, but they're both worth a listen. On the first, Donahue joins him, discussing the story and influences that helped give him his vision. The second is more concerned with the technical aspects, with producers and the sound designer assisting West in explaining how they achieved the film's nostalgic look. Two featurettes examine the production in the usual manner, interviewing the cast and crew, giving a behind-the-scenes peek at the film's development. Plus: deleted scenes, trailer. (E1)