HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

Starring

Jocelin Donahue (He’s Just Not That into You)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Mary Woronov (Looney Tunes: Back in Action)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
A. J. Bowen (The Guest)
Dee Wallace (Critters Attack!)
Lena Dunham (Girls)

Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) inspects a house she wishes to rent. Due to Samantha reminding her of her own daughter, landlady (Dee Wallace) forgoes a deposit in favor of one month’s rent in advance. Samantha is struggling financially so she takes on a babysitting job for Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) and his wife (Mary Woronov). Ulman asks to meet her but stands her up, later apologizing and offering to pay double the original salary. Samantha accepts and gets a ride to the remote mansion from her best friend, Megan (Greta Gerwig). At the house, Mr. Ulman pulls her aside and reveals that he does not have any children to be monitored; although he has a child, his son is now grown. The babysitting job is to attend to his wife’s ailing mother, whom he refers to as “able-bodied.” Samantha balks but finally agrees when she is offered $400 for the job, a significant increase in her pay. Megan immediately leaves, citing Ulman’s lies and peculiar behavior, but she reluctantly promises to pick up Samantha later. Before the Ulmans depart, Samantha speaks with Mrs. Ulman, who tells her they are from “the desert.”Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)On the way home, Megan stops in her car to smoke a cigarette. When her lighter will not work, a stranger (A.J. Bowen) appears out of nowhere, startling her, and lights her cigarette for her. When Megan reveals that she is not the babysitter hired by the Ulmans, the stranger abruptly shoots and kills her. Samantha orders a pizza from a number that Mr. Ulman had repeatedly recommended she call. While waiting for the delivery, she dances around the house while listening to her Walkman, accidentally breaking a vase in the process. While cleaning up the mess, she discovers a cupboard filled with old family photographs. In one photograph, a different family than the Ulmans stands next to the Volvo she and Megan saw upon pulling up to the house. Later, three corpses are shown in one of the rooms, with the implication that they are the family in the photograph and the true residents of the house.Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)Samantha, shaken by a number of issues at the house and by the sudden arrival of the pizza she ordered (delivered by the same man that killed Megan), dials 911, but tells the operator that it was an accidental call. Drugs in the pizza eventually cause Samantha to pass out, just as she discovers activity behind a door leading to the third floor. When she comes to, she finds that she has been bound and gagged in the center of a Pentagram. As a lunar eclipse darkens the night sky, Mr. and Mrs. Ulman, along with the stranger, who is their son Victor, begin a bizarre ritual. Mother (Danielle Noe) is revealed to be a grotesque, witch-like figure. As part of the ritual she slices Samantha’s arm and pours the blood into a goat skull. She uses the blood to draw occult symbols on Samantha’s stomach and forehead, and forces Samantha to drink her blood from the skull.The House of the Devil (2009)Samantha manages to escape halfway through the ritual, and finds Megan’s bloody corpse in the kitchen. She kills Mrs. Ulman and Victor, but horrific images of Mother begin appearing in her mind. Mr. Ulman chases her out of the house and through a nearby cemetery. There, he tells her she was chosen and that it her destiny to accept “him.” Samantha threatens him with the gun used to kill Megan, but Ulman passively accepts his fate, claiming to be a messenger and gloating that she is too late. Instead of shooting him, she shoots herself in the head, to Ulman’s horror. The scene cuts to a broadcast about the strange lunar eclipse the night before, which has confounded scientists due to its abrupt ending, as Samantha is revealed to be in a hospital bed, her head in bandages. A nurse walks in and pats the unconscious Samantha on the stomach, reassuring her that “You will be just fine. Both of you.”The House of the Devil (2009)The House of the Devil is unquestionably a good movie. For most of the film, I was completely drawn in, waiting with a rising anticipation to see what was lurking around the corner; The House of the Devil is truly scary even with its superficial sense of the mundane. Nothing is shown, save for one particularly haunting shot of what lies behind a door that remains (at least temporarily) unopened, and it is all the better for that. But this is before (please excuse the pun) everything goes to Hell at the climax. I’d certainly recommend this film

REVIEW: NO STRINGS ATTACHED

CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Kevin Kline (Dave)
Cary Elwes (The Alphabet Killer)
Greta Gerwig (Eden)
Lake Bell (In A World…)
Olivia Thirlby (Dredd)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Mindy Kaling (This Is The End)
Ophelia Lovibond (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Ben Lawson (The Little Death)
Abby Elliott (How I Met Your Mother)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Matthew Moy (2 Broke Girls)

After first meeting at a summer camp as teenagers, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) run into each other a few times as young adults but never keep in touch. Emma becomes a doctor in Los Angeles, Adam a production assistant for a musical television show. Adam’s father Alvin (Kevin Kline), the well-known star of a former hit television comedy series, has begun a romance with Adam’s ex-girlfriend, Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond). Adam finds out, gets drunk and calls the women in his phone seeking a hookup. The next morning, he wakes on a sofa wearing nothing but a small towel. It turns out that he texted Emma and then came to the apartment she shares with some other residents—Patrice (Greta Gerwig), Shira (Mindy Kaling), and Guy (Guy Branum). Once there, he took off all his clothes and then passed out. Emma leads Adam to her bedroom to retrieve his missing pants and they end up having sex.

The two have sex again at Adam’s house and before she leaves Adam agrees to her proposal for a casual relationship (as she puts it, using each other for sex and nothing else). Adam warns Emma about falling in love with him, but she dismisses the idea and sets ground rules to keep what they’re doing from becoming too serious. At first things go well, but Adam becomes jealous when Sam (Ben Lawson)—another resident—seeks her attention. Adam brings Emma a gift (a mix CD) and she rebuffs him, saying they should stop for a while and hook up with other people. But after being apart for two weeks Emma returns to Adam and they continue being sex friends only.

Adam’s birthday comes along a few months later. He goes out for dinner with Alvin and Vanessa, who announce their plan to have a baby together. Emma berates the other couple while defending Adam. He persuades her to go out together on Valentine’s Day. Things fall apart when she becomes too uncomfortable during the date. An angry Emma advises Adam that he should find someone else who won’t hurt him. Adam tells Emma that he loves her—something she’s not at all receptive to hearing—they have a fight, ending their arrangement.

Six weeks later, a script Adam wrote is being filmed. He gets a regular writing job on the show with the help of Lucy (Lake Bell), the show’s assistant director (Jennifer Irwin), who is clearly attracted to Adam. Meanwhile, Emma is depressed over not being with Adam. The situation is compounded and complicated by her younger sister Katie’s (Olivia Thirlby) wedding the next day and her widowed mother (Talia Balsam) arriving for the event with a male companion (Brian Dierker) of her own. Emma feels she is being strong for her mom by not letting herself get too close to anyone so she won’t become upset by seeing Emma get hurt if a relationship ends poorly. Emma’s mom tells her to stop.

When Emma confesses that she can’t stop thinking about Adam, Katie insists that she call him to put things right. A nervous Emma phones Adam and tells she misses him. He responds that they were never really together. Realizing that she needs to speak with him in person, Emma leaves Santa Barbara where the wedding is taking place and drives to Adam’s house. Her plans are ruined – and she has to hide to avoid being seen—when he arrives home with Lucy. Emma assumes Adam has a new girlfriend and tearfully drives away. Vanessa calls Adam before he and Lucy can have sex—Alvin has overdosed on a cough syrup-based drink called “Purple drank”. Meeting Adam outside the hospital, Vanessa says that she is ending her relationship with Alvin and leaves for a party. Adam goes in to visit Alvin who surprisingly gives him some tender advice about falling in love.

Shira tells Emma about Adam’s dad being admitted to the hospital. As Adam leaves the building he calls Emma and tells her that she must be present if she is going to say that she misses him. Emma gets out of her car as the call ends and Adam is stunned to suddenly find her there. She tells Adam that she is sorry she hurt him and confesses that she really loves and cares about him and they reconcile. After eating breakfast together the next morning—something that never happened before—they arrive in Santa Barbara just before Katie’s wedding is starting. As they enter a room and pause Emma asks Adam what will happen next, and with a smile on his lips he silently intertwines her hand with his—for the first time they are holding hands together as a couple.
Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached (2011)The end credits show an epilogue in which Alvin and Lucy are in a relationship, and are in a restaurant waiting for Adam to arrive to tell him. Adam’s roommate (Jake Johnson) and Patrice are in a relationship and are shown meeting his two dads. Vanessa had told Adam that old people scare her and she is ridden with anxiety when she is trapped in an elevator full of senior citizens. Adam and Emma are seen kissing in the park. Sam and Shira are in a relationship, but he wants his freedom and isn’t pleased when she reveals that she’s already been seeing other men. Katie is having a baby and Emma is the delivering doctor. Guy lures a nervous-looking Sam into a hospital room. At last, Adam and Emma are shown peacefully sleeping together.Good film with a good cast. Surprisingly it’s the secondary actors that shine here. It’s not an Oscar winner but for simple entertainment you can do worse.