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Film / The House of the Devil

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The House of the Devil is a 2009 horror film directed by Ti West and starring Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Dee Wallace, Mary Woronov, and A.J.Bowen.

In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret. The film is notable for its convincing retraux evocation of old '70s and '80s horror movies.


This movie contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Survivor: Samantha becomes one during the final 20 minutes or so, killing both Victor and Mrs. Ulman after freeing herself from her bonds.
  • Arc Words: "Get a grip"
  • Affably Evil: Mr. Ulman. From beginning to end, he never stops being civil and personable.
  • The Antichrist: Implied to be the endgoal of the cult.
  • Beard of Evil: Victor Ulman has a beard and is part of his family's cult.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Ulman is leading the cult.
  • Big Fancy House: The Ulman's house. Samantha spends a good deal of the film exploring it.
  • Big "NO!": In the climax.
    Mr. Ulman: It's your destiny to accept him.
    Samantha: NO!!!
  • Boom, Headshot!: Megan is shot in the head by Victor, taking off most of her face.
  • Bungled Suicide: Samantha shoots herself in the head in order to prevent the birth of The Antichrist. It doesn't kill her.
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  • Death by Pragmatism: Megan knows something is off with the Ulman family and, angry at Samantha for wanting to stay, immediately books it out the front door. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it farther than her car when she meets Victor and gives him an answer he doesn't like.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ritual in which Samantha is impregnated strongly resembles rape.
  • Downer Ending: Thanks to the Satanic ritual, Samantha is impregnated with (presumably) The Antichrist. During her final showdown with Mr. Ulman, she shoots herself in the head to prevent the birth from happening. However, it doesn't kill her, and by the end of the film, she is comatose and still pregnant.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mrs. Ulman is genuinely grief-stricken when she discovers Victor's corpse.
  • Eye Scream: Samantha rams her thumb into Victor's eye, presumably leaving him half-blind, as he grapples her.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mrs. Ulman and Victor try to act charming and accommodating, but it quickly becomes obvious that something is really off about them. Mrs. Ulman drops the act after Samantha kills her son.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The cult in the movie are devil-worshipers who sacrifice people and plan on conceiving the Antichrist.
  • Jump Scare:
    • Victor Ulman's introduction. What he does later is an even bigger one.
    • Samantha's hallucinations of the priestess's face. TWICE.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Poor Megan.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. At one point Samantha goes to the toilet and her peeing is audible.
  • Nightmare Face: The priestess has a horrible, demonic face. Go ahead, see for yourself.
  • Nothing but Hits: Three 80's singles are listened to by characters. "One Thing Leads To Another" by The Fixx is well-remembered enough to show up on many 80's hits compilations. On the other hand, "One Of Our Submarines" by Thomas Dolby and "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" by The Greg Kihn Band are a bit more obscure. All three of these songs were released within a few years of each other and would place the film around 1983 or so. And then the soundtrack also uses much more recent music by Gods Of Fire, which is just influenced by 80's metal enough to not stick out too much.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Most of the film follows this, not showing much of the threat imposed until the end.
  • Product Placement: When Samantha and Megan are eating pizza near the beginning, they are drinking from large Coca-Cola paper cups.
  • Robbing the Dead: Victor steals Megan's cigarette after blowing her face off.
  • Slashed Throat: Victor Ulman.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Victor Ulman poses as a pizza delivery worker in order to dupe Samantha into eating drugged pizza.
  • Stylistic Suck: The film was shot on 16mm film and was made intentionally to look like an old movie. Expect lots of grain and murky colors.
  • Wham Line:
    • "You're not the babysitter?"
    • We will take care of you. Both of you.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Mr. Ulman and what exactly happened between Samantha shooting herself and the final scene in the hospital is never elaborated on, though he likely died from getting stabbed in the stomach. He was shown leaking copious amount of blood.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A dead child is shown amongst the bodies in the ritual room.

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