I Came Around: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

The first time I saw Ti West’s The House of the Devil, I was bored out of my goddamn skull. Even while recognizing the film as deliberate, ‘slow burn’ horror, I was put off by the glacial pace and promise of a pay-off that never seemed to arrive. I revisited the movie one sleepless night, realizing that despite my frequent bitching about the lack of action, I couldn’t really remember the ending. I don’t know what happened with that second viewing, but I flip-flopped on the movie hard. Suddenly riveted by the journey instead of obsessed with the destination, my reaction went from ‘Ugh, nothing’s happening’ to ‘Holy shit, nothing’s happening…and it’s spectacular’. And the payoff was absolutely there. Not sure how I missed it the first time. The House of the Devil is now one of my favorite horror movies. I’ve seen it three times since.

Embarrassing epilogue: Years later at the Sundance Film Festival, I was at a lodge at Deer Valley, huddling in a corner as a seemingly endless stream of independent horror filmmakers breezed in and out of the room. Star-struck and wide-eyed like a little fanboy kitten, I watched as Ti West, sporting a battered hoodie and sleepy eyes, slunk onto the scene. He leaned against a lodge beam, desperate to talk NFL football with anybody on his radar, and I somehow found myself stumbling into his conversational circle. Sensing a lull, I inexplicably blurted, ‘Oh boy, Ti, I really hated The House of the Devil the first time I saw it. But then I watched it again and really liked it!’  Ti slowly looked me up and down before replying: ‘Yeah, that’s how my movies are supposed to work.’  And that, my friends, represents the end of my feeble attempts to begin a budding friendship with Ti West.