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: THIS IS 40

 CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Albert brooks (The Simpsons)
Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Annie Mumolo (Bad Moms)
Robet Smigel (Pixels)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Tom Everett (Dances With Wolves)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Suzy Nakamura (Dr. Ken)

Leslie Mann, Melissa McCarthy, and Paul Rudd in This Is 40 (2012)This Is 40 is about, and in short, it’s exactly as advertised – Life at 40 with a family and other various responsibilities. Picking up some years after Knocked Up, Debbie and Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd respectively) are seemingly stuck in financial quicksand. Pete’s record label is tanking as a result of his unwillingness to change with the market, and a string of internal theft leaves Debbie’s clothing store to hemorrhage money they don’t really have. Their financial burden is exacerbated by a mooch of an in-law, and a long lost parent pops into the mix to perplex their lives that much more… and all this doesn’t even take their normal everyday stress into consideration. Their 13 year old daughter, Sadie, (Maude Apatow) is at that odd stage of life where ‘priorities’ are defined as keeping up with the latest and artificial trends in our pop-culture driven society. Oh, and dramatically acting out because she feels like her family is ruining her life, of course. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Charlotte (Iris Apatow), their sweet little 8 year old that’s struggling with a sister that’s too ‘mature’ and ‘cool’ to give her the time of day, not to mention her argumentative parents.Leslie Mann and Megan Fox in This Is 40 (2012)Conceptually speaking, it all sounds dry and unoriginal, but Apatow injecting this premise with a series of relatable issues keeps things interesting. Not only that, but all of the craziness in their lives never feels tacked on just for the sake of it, and that’s a hard thing for any director to accomplish with such subject matter. In Apatow’s latest however film, he’s able to make all of these moving parts play out like a symphony – Things begin with plenty of laughs, but as the relevant back story begins to fill us in on the issues that initiate the potential for their marriage to fall apart, Apatow finds a rhythm that effortlessly pulls us through all the highs and lows without making them feel like a burden. Paul Rudd and Chris O'Dowd in This Is 40 (2012)Of course it’s all somewhat sensationalized for the sake of entertainment, but this is the director’s most hilarious, yet awkwardly personal film to date. Rudd and Mann may have been the characters who practically stole the show in Knocked Up, but they work just as well as the focus in a full length feature film. Their comedic timing is nothing short of flawless, but Apatow deserves another pat on the back here as well – The characters were made by design to bicker in ways that are so brutally honest with reality, that some people may not want to acknowledge that what they’re seeing on screen actually hits close to home.The film’s in-laws, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, who are entirely believable as the building blocks for much of Pete and Debbie’s ongoing strife. It was also nice to see Jason Segal back as, well, ‘Jason’, and Megan Fox was great as the sleazy, yet loveable floozy. She had a lot of fun playing the role, and it showed. Also another great turn from Melissa McCarthy too.