Indie horror film builds the horror slowly, masterfully

By Luke Rosica || Contributing Writer

If you’re a fan of late 70’s or early 80’s horror films, you should watch The House of The Devil. The House of The Devil is an independent horror film that came out in 2009. The film pays homage to classic horror movies and recreates the style perfectly. In this throwback film, we follow Samantha, a college student who desperately needs money. She finds a job babysitting for an older couple, whom she has never met, and we quickly learn that not everything is as it seems. A lot of the movie follows Samantha wandering down dark hallways and into mysterious rooms. The camera never shakes violently, the music never blares, there’s no senseless gore and there’s no jump scares. The film is an exercise in building horror through tension. It wonders, how long can we leave the audience in the dark until we show them what is going on.

The reason why I love The House of The Devil is because it is a perfect recreation of the tone and style of classic horror movies, like the original Halloween. The film as a whole, is very pacing. Unlike modern horror movies, we aren’t subjected to jump scares or cheap tactics to get a response from the viewer. For most of the movie, the audience has no idea what is going on. Instead, we’re forced to wait and anticipate what horrifying thing may be happening in the next room. This really pays off in the long run because, once we reach the turning point of the film, all hell breaks loose. The tension that has been building through this methodically shot film adds to the horror of what happens once we reach the climax because we’ve been anticipating it for so long.

This movie also nails the aesthetic. Darkly lit hallways with long, casting shadows create a very tense setting for the film. Additionally, the film has the grainy, almost raw look that many classics like Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Amityville Horror have. One reason for this is the film is set in the early 80’s. Feathered hair, walkmans and many other familiar relics from the time are littered throughout the film, much like an actual 80’s horror film would be. One of the largest reasons the movie nails the style is that it was filmed with a 16mm camera. The use of actual film stock really helps recreate the style of the classics, many of which were filmed with 16mm, in a way that modern day digital cameras would not be able to recreate. It successfully captures a loveable cheapness and roughness that a digital camera would make look too clean and crisp. Visually, the film matches the era perfectly. There are other small things that add to this style: the look of the credits, the female lead, and the plot. However, I don’t want to spoil anything, so, I would recommend checking it out for yourself to see that stuff.

This film is a slow-burn, so I’m sure most people will probably think it’s boring. However, if you’re a fan of the genre and fan of some of the older horror movies, I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy this movie.

Sophomore Luke Rosica is a contributing writer. His email is lrosica@fandm.edu.

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