Recommended

Shaun vs. House of the Devil (2009)

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Directed by Ti West

Starring Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov

A simple babysitting job turns into the worst nightmare of a woman who unexpectedly becomes the target of a satanic cult.

Review

Samantha is a college student down on her luck as far as money goes.  She hates living with her roommate in the dorm so she’s looking for a way out and finds a cheap apartment that she can get if she can come up with the $300 for it by the weekend.  She finds a posting for a babysitter job and eventually gets it, thanks in large part to her friend Megan taking down all the other posters to increase her chances of getting the money and apartment.  It’s when she arrives for the job that things get really weird.

The creepy Mr. Ulman offering the job (and who is creepier than Tom Noonan?) tells Samantha that the job is not actually to babysit, he can’t get anyone to take the job if he tells it like it is.  He really wants her to look after his elderly step mother.  Samantha balks at the idea but Mr. Ulman throws more money at her and she takes the job for $400.  Megan doesn’t want her to take the job but Samantha just can’t walk away from that kind of money.  Megan takes off and Samantha’s night just gets started.

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“My horoscope said it’d be a good day today.”

The first thing you’ll notice about the movie is that it’s based in the late 70’s/early 80’s, so the styles are definitely not modern.  Even the film is presented like it was filmed back then, even on bluray, the picture carries a dark and gritty tone throughout.  It’s a nice throwback to an earlier time in filmmaking when a movie was about presenting a story and not just about how it looked.

The movie presents just one simple story, there are no little side stories going on.  The whole movie centres on Samantha and the camera rarely ever comes off her.  While some may be put off by the slow pace, the film certainly builds tension which mounts higher and higher and it’s only towards the end of the film where the last act is very intense and brutal at times.

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Behold the true face of evil!

This type of movie is really all about the characters and the whole cast does a terrific job. I think a lot of people can relate to Jocelin Donahue’s character of Samantha, someone who’s just looking to make a change for the better and required to do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily want to do.  Tom Noonan (The Ripper from Last Action Hero!) does what he does best, be creepy.  His character is very off-putting, always nervous but as an old man he comes off like he has the best intentions, just not very good around people.  As with most good horror movies, there’s always a little lesson to be learned: don’t trust strangers.  They might be a devil worshipping cult member. 

TL;DR

Story: 8 – If you can deal with the snail’s pace of the film, you’ll be rewarded with a scary and intense horror film.

Blood: 7 – Stabbings, gun shots to the head, slit throats, an eyeball gouging scene.  Yuck.

Nudity: 0 – Nothing on show, movie didn’t need it.

Overall: 9 – A fantastic throwback to the last golden age of horror films.

Trivia

-Shot on 16mm film to give it the film a retro feel to it.

-The house used in the film was infested with ladybugs, you can definitely see some throughout the film.

-As a part of a promotion, the film was released in a clamshell VHS box, much like films back in the 80’s came in.

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