The House of the Devil

Dir. Ti West (2009 95 mins, super 16, 1.85)

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Set in the 1980s, The House of the Devil centers on cute college girl Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), who responds to an ad for a babysitter to land some quick cash for a new apartment.  Her skeptical pal Megan (the charming Greta Gerwig) drives her deep into the woods  and deposits her at a big, creaky Victorian house lorded over by a creepy old couple (the delectably fiendish Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov) with big plans to celebrate the night’s rare lunar eclipse. Desperate for the money, Samantha agrees to stay even after she finds out there’s no baby….


Jason Zinoman April 30, 2009

The House of the Devil, which recently opened at the Tribeca Film Festival during a good year for indie horror fans, is the rare scary film that does not pander to its audience. Set in a desolate college town in the 1980s, the movie, which includes lots of feathered hair and tinny synthesizer music, tells the familiar story of a babysitter all alone, an unsettling phone ringing and an empty knife rack. But those looking for an homage to the slasher era will be disappointed. Director Ti West cares less about plot and gore than establishing a rigorously naturalistic mood, which he details with the precision and care of the early films of Roman Polanski. Most provocative of all is the movie’s pace, stunningly slow, boasting long, creepy scenes of empty windswept streets. Mr. West—a thinking man’s horror director whose film borrows its title from Georges Melies’s 1896 silent short, widely considered the first horror movie—understands that to truly terrify, you must first do the heavy lifting of suspending an audience’s disbelief. In a recent online interview, West complained that his producers, surely fixated on shrinking attention spans, cut the movie without consulting him, which may be the reason why despite all its stylistic sophistication, House of the Devil still seems a little slighter than it should be, as if it were missing some necessary anxiety-producing subtext. Patience sadly is no virtue in the current horror genre.Much more of the moment is the accelerated outrageousness of Hysterical Psycho, a slaphappy lampoon also opening at Tribeca that flaunts its movie references much more conspicuously. The blood spills quickly and often as soon as a theater troupe of attractive young people (strangely intense nerd? Check. Virgin with big boobs? Check) visit an isolated lakeside retreat where they are hacked to pieces, one by one. Director Dan Fogler, making his directorial debut, packs almost every crowded, askew frame with inventive visual gags and much of the fun of the jittery exercise, which began as Fogler’s preparation for an upcoming movie, Number 13, in which he plays Alfred Hitchcock, is spotting the in-jokes (a boat named Tippy!). The rest is just glorying in gore. When the killer rips out someone’s heart out and spreads the slimy thing all over his body, he looks like he’s having the time of his life.


Dennis Dermody February 3, 2010

Out on DVD is one of my top ten favorite movies of last year: The House Of The Devil. This deliciously demonic tale by the talented director Ti West (Trigger Man), set in the 1980s, is about a pretty college girl named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) who unwisely accepts a “babysitting” job at a spooky house in the country harboring many satanic secrets. She should have seen it coming based on the two weirdos who hire her, the skull-faced and looming Tom Noonan and the sardonically menacing Mary Woranov. West subverts the horror genre film playfully by insidiously setting up the mood and letting it eerily and slowly play out before slamming home with a fiendish finale. Tracking shots of Samantha wandering through this weird house with strange noises coming from behind closed doors keeps you marvelously unnerved and unsettled. For a promo they sent out the movie on VHS in the old big box format which made me crazy because the movie is such a perfect time machine back to those satanic drive-in favorites. The DVD has commentary with the director and star as well as behind the scenes footage and deleted scenes…


Eric Kohn April 30, 2009

Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” is a wet dream for horror fans, but that should not limit its audience. The classical structure slowly builds tension before erupting into a decisively gory finish, harkening back to a smarter and more nuanced era of spooky storytelling. West’s last feature, the highly experimental “Trigger Man,” challenged audiences to remain patient for roughly half the running time before the aimless plot gave way to a massive slaughterfest. “Devil” also takes its time, but maintains a delightfully creepy aura throughout, while also functioning equally well as a low key study of youth alienation. West’s leading lady, the talented Jocelin Donahue, plays Samantha, a young college student strapped for cash. Thanks to the efforts of her upbeat friend (Greta Gerwig), Samantha lands a babysitter gig at an ancient mansion in the woods. The job, however, turns out to be a lot crazier than she expected. The eerie man responsible for hiring her (Tom Noonan, appropriately deadpan) admits he has no kids, only a strangely absent mother. His real motives don’t emerge until the fast-paced finale, allowing the aura to toy around with the viewers’ imagination. As Samantha wanders around the vacant mansion, West develops a constant sense of dread, which forces us to pay close attention to the character, grow comfortable with her — and worry for her safety. (As Satanic worshipping creeps into the story, that becomes a reasonable concern.) West’s style culls from the vibe of late 1980s horror (and subtly sets the movie in that period), but it’s his authentic filmmaking skill that makes “Devil” such an enthralling experience. Unlike the miscalculation of “Grindhouse,” West’s movie relies less on homage than on narrative refinement. His unseen sequel to Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever” lies on Lionsgate’s cutting room floor, but “Devil” indicates the director will continue to churn out top-notch work.


Todd Brown April 19, 2009

Ti West has been pretty much the unofficial wunderkind of American horror since the arrival of The Roost a few years back – the kid with all the promise who was supposed to be the guy to watch going forward. Triggerman didn’t do it for him and I doubt shooting a direct-to-video sequel to Cabin Fever is going to, either. But House of the DevilHouse of the Devil just might. I had the chance to catch this one in a Berlin market screening and this is by far the best thing to come from West so far and I’d say also the very best of the recent output from Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix. Casually evoking the 1980s era that it is set in without ever sliding into camp, House captures all the best elements of the low budget indie horror of that era with absolutely none of the waste. It’s lean, effective film making and about to make its public debut at the Tribeca Film Festival next week.

Roger Ebert

November 11, 2009

Has there ever been a movie where a teenage baby-sitter enjoyed a pleasant evening? And a non-demonic child? Sam gets a break in “The House of the Devil.” She discovers there isn’t a baby at all. Only the aged mother of Mr. Ulman, a sinister man played by Tom Noonan, who is my choice to portray The Judge in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and if you have read that gruesome masterpiece, there is nothing more I need say about Mr. Ulman.

Sam (Jocelin Donahue) is a perky college student saving money for a deposit on her own apartment. She puts up signs around the campus asking for her baby-sitting services, and after she takes one of them, Mr. Ulman takes all of the rest…

Sam’s friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) gives her a lift to the Ulman household, which they find way, way down at the end of a long, long road in the middle of a dark, dark forest. It looks like the House of the Seven Gables with three gables amputated. Mr. Ulman and his wife, Mrs. Ulman (Mary Woronov), greet Sam with hospitality laced with commiseration. The house is furnished in a way to remind you of aged maiden aunts who haven’t changed a thing since their parents died.

Mother Ulman is upstairs in her room, Mr. Ulman explains. He only told Sam there was a baby because some baby-sitters balk at the difficulties of old folks. But not to worry. Mr. Ulman more or less promises she’ll be no more problem than Norman Bates’ mom. Then the Ulmans depart because they want to observe the full eclipse of the moon, and you can’t even see the moon so deep in the dark, dark forest, you see.

Left alone on her own (Mother upstairs in her room and doesn’t make a sound), Sam pokes around. It’s sort of… creepy. Good thing she only snaps on the TV briefly; If the Addams Family came on, it might look familiar. And it might come on: This is the mid-1980s, when babysitters had more to fear from their employers than vice versa.

“The House of the Devil” has been made almost by hand by Ti West, who wrote, directed and edited the movie. He’s an admirer of classic horror films and understands that if there’s anything scarier than haunted house, it’s a possibly haunted house. The film may provide an introduction for some audience members to the Hitchcockian definition of suspense: It’s the anticipation, not the happening, that’s the fun.

This is the kind of movie that looks lighted by the full of the moon, which is a good trick during an eclipse. Sam is relieved when Mr. and Mrs. Ulman return, until they don’t seem prepared to give her the traditional ride home. She also meets Mother (Danielle Noe), who is considerably more spry than advertised. And there’s the family — handyman? — named Victor (AJ Bowen). And Mother’s room turns out to be far, far different than you might expect — and dark, dark.

JOCELIN DONAHUE, “Samantha” — Jocelin Donahue is a native of Bristol, Connecticut. She is a graduate of New York University with a degree in Sociology. After a supporting role in The Burrowers, Donahue was cast as the lead in Ti West’s critically acclaimed horror film The House of the Devil, winning Best Actress at the 2009 LA Screamfest. She went on to play leading roles in The Last Godfather by Korean filmmaker Shim Hyung-rae, and in the independent films Live at the Foxes Den and The Living. She appeared in The End of Love, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and worked with director Terrence Malick on Knight of Cups. She played a young version of Barbara Hershey’s character in Insidious: Chapter 2, which was released in September 2013. As a commercial actress, she has appeared in numerous national campaigns, including ads for Levi’s, Zune, Vitamin Water, Apple, and Subway. In campaigns for Ketel One and Old Navy, she worked with directors David O. Russell and Roman Coppola.

TOM NOONAN, “Mr. Ulman” — Gravitating toward film and TV in the 80s, Tom Noonan began appearing regularly in edgy, unsympathetic roles, most notably as the “Tooth Fairy” serial killer in Manhunter (1986). His other work at this time included such looming parts in Easy Money (1983), Best Defense (1984), The Monster Squad (1987) and RoboCop 2 (1990). In the mid-90s he was able to finance his own first play-turned-art house film project What Happened Was… (1994).The success of the two character film induced Tom to finance another film, The Wife (1995), based on his Obie-winning (for writing) play “Wifey”. Notable 90s TV work included roles in The X-Files (1993) and the miniseries Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (1994), in which he also composed the score. He has also written short works of fiction.

MARY WORONOV, “Mrs. Ulman” — After a class trip to Andy Warhol ‘s Silver Factory, Mary Woronov joined Warhol’s entourage and starred in a number of his underground films and appeared as a go-go dancer in the Velvet Underground’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows. She left the Factory in the late 1960s… She supported herself with work in off-Broadway and off-off- Broadway theater. She appeared in three of director/producer Theodore Gershuny’s films, Kemek (1970), Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972), and Sugar Cookies (1973).  Woronov moved to Los Angeles where she appeared on the daytime soap Somerset (1970) and had a memorable role in Bartel’s Death Race 2000 (1975). Her best and most famous role came in 1982, with the part of Mary Bland in Bartel’s black comedy Eating Raoul (1982).

GRETA GERWIG, “Megan” — Greta Gerwig was born in Sacramento, California. She is an American actress and filmmaker. Her parents are Christine (née Sauer), a nurse, and Gordon Gerwig, a financial consultant and computer programmer. Gerwig was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, but also attended an all-girls Catholic school. She has described herself as “an intense child”. With an early interest in dance, she intended to do a degree in musical theatre in New York. She graduated from Barnard College, where she studied English and philosophy instead. Originally intending to become a playwright, Gerwig was cast in a minor role in Joe Swanberg’s LOL in 2006, while still studying at Barnard. Mainstream success remained elusive. Yet in 2011, Gerwig received an award for Acting from the Athena Film Festival for her artistry as one of Hollywood’s definitive screen actresses of her generation.

AJ BOWEN, “Victor Ulman” — AJ Bowen was born on December 21, 1977 in Marietta, Georgia, USA as Alfred C. Bowen Jr. He is an actor, known for The Sacrament (2014), You’re Next (2011), The Signal (2007) and The House of the Devil (2009).

DEE WALLACE, “Landlady” — Dee Wallace first broke into both TV and cinema screens in the mid 1970s and through her appearances in several well remembered horror and sci-fi films, and Dee quickly gained a cult following amongst the fantasy film fans. She was pursued by a clan of cannibal killers in The Hills Have Eyes (1977), terrorized by a pack of werewolves in the superb The Howling (1981), got a break from the horror, as a sympathetic mum in the mega sci-fi hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and nearly ends up lunch for a rabid St. Bernard in the heart stopping Cujo (1983).

Heather Robb — Roommate Darryl Nau — Random Guy Brenda Cooney — Nurse Danielle Noe — Mother Mary B. McCann — Elaine Cross John Speredakos — Ted Stephen Lena Dunham — 911 Operator (Voice) Graham Reznick — Radio DJ (Voice) Ti West — Favorite Teacher

TI WEST – Director — Ti West was born on October 5, 1980 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. He is a writer and director, known for The House of the Devil (2009), The Innkeepers (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Sacrament (2014), and the upcoming In A Valley Of Violence.

Produced by 

Badie Ali – executive producer

Hamza Ali – executive producer

Malik B. Ali – executive producer

Josh Braun – producer

Derek Curl – co-producer

Larry Fessenden – producer

Roger Kass – producer

Greg Newman – executive producer

Peter Phok – producer

Music by

Jeff Grace

Cinematography by

Eliot Rockett

Film Editing by

Ti West

Casting By

Lisa Fields

Production Design by

Jade Healy

Art Direction by

Chris Trujillo

Costume Design by

Robin Fitzgerald

Makeup Department

Ozzy Alvarez – special makeup effects department head

Kelly Golden – sculptor/painter

Brenda Bush Johannesen – assistant hair stylist (as Brenda Bush) / assistant makeup artist (as Brenda Bush)

Danielle Noe – hair stylist / makeup artist / special effects makeup assistant

Brett Stern – model maker and painter

Production Management

Jacob Jaffke – production manager

Brent Kunkle – production supervisor

Second Unit Director / Assistant Director

Zeke Dunn – first assistant director

Graham Reznick – second unit director

Kamen Velkovsky – second assistant director

Melinda Ziyadat – second second assistant director

Art Department

Dennis Franklin – set dresser

Tim Linden – property master

Travis Moonschein – scenic

David Powers – scenic

Chris Trujillo – leadman

Elisha Zeitler – scenic

Sound Department

Shaun Brennan – foley artist

Tom Efinger – sound re-recording mixer / supervising sound editor

Eric Gitelson – foley editor / foley engineer

Jack Hutson – sound mixer

Amanda Jacques – boom operator

John Moros – dialogue editor

Josh Neal – additional sound mixer

Graham Reznick – sound designer

Jeff Seelye – assistant sound editor

Special Effects by

Christian Beckman – makeup effects producer: Quantum Creation FX

Visual Effects by

John C. Loughlin – visual effects supervisor


Asa Liebmann – stunts

Tracey Ruggiero – stunt double: Ms. Donahue

Anthony Vincent – stunt coordinator

Camera and Electrical Department

Gordon Arkenberg – first assistant camera

Rebecca Arndt – assistant camera

Nathaniel Bates – additional electric

Mike Castro – additional rigger

Jason De Jesus – additional rigger

Rudy Diaz – additional rigger

Bill Dixon – dolly grip

Michael Drucker – first assistant camera

David Dutkus – additional grip

Chris Elassad – additional rigger (as Christopher Elassad)

Kevin Gallagher – additional rigger

Bart Grieb – gaffer

Erik Guldbech – electric

Brian Harnick – additional rigger

Matthew Kerr – additional rigger

Benjamin Kitchens – rigging electric

Bryan Landes – additional grip

Seán Linehan – rigging best electric (as Sean Linehan)

Daniel Luebke – additional electric

Tom Mone – additional grip

Rick Morrison – additional rigger

Arttist Mouthapong – additional electric (as Artist Mouthapong)

Megan Nole – grip

Joseph Olandese – additional electric

Robbin Park – additional grip

Meno Payne – additional rigger

Aaron Randall – additional rigger

Jeremy Rodriguez – best boy grip

Ethan Rosenduft – key rigging grip (as Ethan Rosenduft)

Ramses Santos – additional rigger

Jason Sarrey – rigging best grip

Nate Slevin – film loader

Elizabeth Stern – additional electric

Michelle Sun – second assistant camera

Travis Tips – additional rigger

Brooks Toran – best boy electric / rigging gaffer

Christopher Vidaic – key grip (as Chris Vidiac)

Andrew Wheeler – additional rigger

Ethan Wilhelm – additional rigger

Casting Department

John Barba – casting associate

Emily Marchand – casting assistant

Jonathan J. Nelson – casting assistant

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Jayme Bohn – wardrobe assistant

Lisa Hennessy – wardrobe supervisor

Kristie Leigh Palmer – wardrobe intern

Editorial Department

Marc Brown – film output: digital intermediate

David Gauff – digital intermediate editor

John Vladic – colorist: dailies (uncredited)

Music Department

Mikael Carlsson – soundtrack producer

Tom Chiu – musician: violin

Dave Eggar – musician: cello

Jeff Grace – orchestrator

Neal Jonas – musician

Lisa Klein Moberly – music supervisor

Graham Reznick – composer: additional music

Theresa Solomon – musician: violin

Joshua Tidsbury – music mixer / score mixer

Other crew

Scott Amundson – additional production assistant

James Anderson – additional production assistant

Justin Benson – location assistant

Max Bond – set production assistant

William M. Bradley – location assistant (as William Bradley) / production assistant (as William Bradley)

Dustin Bricker – script supervisor

Dan Bruun – additional production assistant

Mike Cassidy – additional production assistant

Jackie Eaton – location scout

Scott Ennis – creative marketing

Josh Farish – production assistant

Rashad Frett – set production assistant

Scott Friedman – production assistant

Markus Goetze – production accountant

Derek Gordon – additional production assistant

Omar Hernandez – additional production assistant

Todd Jambon- additional production assistant

Michael Kania – additional production assistant

Keith Marlin – key production assistant

Christopher Menges – location manager

Nicole Mikuzis – executive liaison

Linda Peckel – location scout

Franz Pena – production assistant

A.V. Perkins – production assistant

Nicole Real – assistant: Mr. Phok

Jack Russell – set medic

Robert L. Seigel – legal services

Kevin R. Shields – production coordinator (as Kevin Shields)

Robert Valletri – set security

Michael Vincent – office assistant: Glass Eye Films

Lisa Wisely – business affairs: Glass Eye Pix

Anthony Woods – additional production assistant

81PDcNZEG7L._SY355_ The soundtrack for The House of the Devil was released in November 2009 as a Double Feature with the score of I Can See You, both by composer Jeff Grace. Opening (1.10) Family Photos (2.24) The View Upstairs (1.45) Original Inhabitants (3.05) Meeting Mr. Ulman (1.12) Keep the Change (1.12) Footsteps (1.27) Mother (3.07) Chalice (0.51) On the Run (3.45) Lights Out (3.04) He's Calling You (1.50) The House of the Devil (5.49) Mrs. Ulman (2.04) Tracks from 15 to 26 comprise the soundtrack for I Can See You. Get it here from amazon.