Trent Film Society Presents: The House of the Devil


We started our Shock-tober horror series by visiting various parts of the world, exploring different types of horror, and understanding what makes people tick. From South Korea’s I Saw the Devil and France’s Martyrs, to Britain’s Repulsion.

To conclude our month of chills and thrills, TFS will screen a film made here in North America: the critically acclaimed indie horror/satanic thriller The House of the Devil (2009).

Directed by up-and-coming independent horror filmmaker Ti West, you may be familiar with his other works including The Roost (2005), The Innkeepers (2011), and his most recent The Sacrament (2013).

West’s style is that of a horror aficionado: he understands what makes people frightened and does not pander to his audience with cheap scares and excessive gore and violence; he clearly is a fan of the genre and cares deeply about what he is making.

Harkening back to classics such as Kubrick’s The Shining, Friedkin’s The Exorcist, and Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, The House of the Devil makes excellent use of developing the film’s protagonist Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) so as to provide the viewer with someone to care for, to make the events that follow actually have an impact.

Samantha, a university student in the American mid-west, is the best caricature for Trent students to sympathize with. She is young and she is primarily concerned with paying the deposit on a new lease. Sound familiar?

Samantha comes across a ‘babysitter needed’ flier on a university poster board, calls the number, and sets up a meeting with the person on the other line. Along with her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig, who you will remember from Frances Ha), Samantha visits the house and discovers that something is not as it seems.

Despite Megan providing Samantha with rational advice, Samantha does not listen to reason and stays the night at the house. “This one night changes everything for me!” exclaims Samantha. What she discovers during her stay I won’t spoil for you…

Director Ti West “Establishes mood with precision and care of early Polanski” says film critic Jason Zinoman. Tension and mood are key elements in The House of the Devil, and West knows how to pace his film just right so as to keep the audience intrigued, avoiding any sense of boredom that could arise in a slowburn satanic thriller.

West demonstrates his love for 1970s and 80s horror cinema by placing the narrative in an 80s backdrop with relevant fashions and sets. Even the cinematography evokes the 80s, with the various zoom shots and paused frames in the film’s opening sequence.

We’ve decided to end the month with a bang and hold our screening at Market Hall on Wednesday, October 29 at 8pm, just before Halloween! Admission is FREE as always and there will be blood popcorn and Halloween candy available for your enjoyment!