Archive for the ‘Haunted Houses’ Category

houseofthedevilThere’s something entrancing about 70’s horror movies. Without the advancements in practical effects, and animatronics perfected during the eighties or digital imaging we have access to today filmmakers were forced to rely on storytelling, and atmosphere to evoke terror, and that’s why so many films from that era remain effective today, titles like The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, and Suspiria to name a handful.

Ti West is a modern filmmaker responsible for a quasi-renaissance of 70’s style horror, with films like The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and the subject of today’s post, The House of the Devil.
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House of the Devil follows college sophomore Samantha Hughes, who, desperate to make some quick cash for a deposit on an apartment takes a job babysitting for a wealthy family in the countryside. Samantha soon discovers that the seemingly polite owners are hiding a sinister secret, and that there’s no so thing as easy money.

Ti West is an artist behind the camera, and as with most of his filmography the frights come from his sweeping shots, crawling pace, and reliance on atmosphere to unsettle the audience. Credit must also be given to Jocelin Donahue’s performance as she creates a charming heroine you can’t help but root for, and the always enjoyable Tom Noonan, (who house3most gore-mongers will recognize as Francis Dolarhyde from Manhunter) as Mr. Ulman.

As with most 70’s inspired horror films, The House of the Devil is a slow-burner, but stick with it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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wearestillhere

Movies featuring ghosts, haunted houses and the like have become a little stagnant these days thanks to the seemingly annual release of Paranormal Activity films, and other jump-scare riddled titles courtesy of Blumhouse productions. That’s not to say I dislike Blumhouse, as they’ve released a few titles I’ve quite enjoyed, namely Oculus, Creep, and The Gift, but the more they produce the more I’m beginning to see a trend. There’s a formula to a Blumhouse film, no doubt created to keep them from diverging too far from from their low-budget high-return policy, a singular set, relatively small cast, and the trademark out of place post climax jump-scare. Now, I appreciate the mantra, less is more, many of my favourite films follow it faithfully, but less is not more when the story isn’t strong or unique enough to justify it. When this is the case films come off as nothing more than cheap cash-ins to milk us of our hard earned money, and we had plenty of those in the eighties, and nineties, (I’m looking at you Leprechaun series). Which is why I’m always elated when a film comes along that completely destroys the norm, and forces the complacent to step up their game.

We Are Still Here is that kind of film.

After the death of their son Bobby, Anne and Paul Sacchetti move to rural New England to heal, only to discover their new town harbours a sinister secret, and the ancient evil lying dormant beneath their house has awoken to feed.

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We are Still Here is my favourite horror film of 2015, no contest. I’d even go as far as to say the last ten years. I simply cannot praise it enough. The cinematography is both beautiful, and unsettling, complimented by an atmospheric score composed by Wojciech Golczewski. The cast, featuring scream queen Barbara Crampton, and the inimitable Larry Fessenden, are excellent, and the ghosts, man, those Dagmar’s are terrifying.

I won’t ruin the twist for those who haven’t seen it, (not that it was too terribly unexpected) but I will say the final scene is one that demands be seen. Never before has so much blood been shed by a vengeful spirit.

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Despite some issues with the final few seconds of the film, We Are Still Here is a near flawless example of a haunted house/ ghost story done right.

Take notes Blumhouse, if Ted Geoghegan’s next film is anything like We Are Still Here, you boys may have some competition.