28 January 2015

BABYSITTER WANTED vs. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

BABYSITTER WANTED

USA, 2008
Directors: Michael Manasseri
& Jonas Barnes












One year before Ti West made a horror film about a babysitter alone in a creepy house (see below), TV actor Michael Manasseri ("Weird Science") and filmmaking buddy Jonas Barnes already made a slightly similar film which also deals with a babysitter alone in a creepy house, in this case a young religious student who works on a babysitting job at a remote rural farm. Everything seems to work just fine... but then she receives several weird anonymus phone calls... and then she realizes there might be an intruder in the house... and the she realizes that there's something wrong with the boy she's sitting... and then she realizes that there's something wrong with his parents too...


Hands down, "Babysitter Wanted" is one of the best, most surprising, most unpredictable indie horror flicks of the 00s. A shrewd and nifty little gem that successfully manages to mix sub-genres like home invasion, torture porn, cannibal horror and satanism-themed horror into one nasty bastard that somehow feels like a blend of "When A Stranger Calls", "The Omen" and "Motel Hell". What starts out as run-of-the-mill semi-teen-slasher, soon descends into total madness, delivering so many twists and turns, it's dizzying. Whenever you think you figured it all out, the movie takes another turn and goes into a completely different direction. Furthermore, in terms and tone of atmosphere, it's a wild but highly satisyfing rollercoaster ride that manages to be amusing, thrilling
and shocking at the same time.


The movie possesses a dark and gritty look that reminded me a bit of S.F. Brownrigg's works. Great lighting, great set design and terrific photography by Alex Vendler ("Kurt & Courtney"); some ace-looking gore, cool make-up effects and a couple of very well done jump scares (the one at the school almost gave me a heart attack). The cast consists of talented youngsters like Sarah Thompson ("Cruel Intentions 2") or Kai Caster ("Children of the Corn: Genesis"), and veteran actors like horror legend Bill Moseley or Bruce Thomas (who played one of the Mini-Ash's in "Army of Darkness"), and they all give fabulous, believable performances. Best of all: the barnstorming and, at times, incredibly scary score by Swiss composer Kurt Oldman ("Neighbor").




THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

USA, 2009
Director: Ti West













One year after Michael Manasseri and Jonas Barnes made a horror film about a babysitter alone in a creepy house, Ti West made a slightly similar film which also deals with a babysitter alone in a creepy house, in this case a young student that takes a very strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse... a babysitting job that becomes a frightening nightmare when the student realizes that she was just set up to take part in a Satanic ritual...


"The House of the Devil" is an okay movie that pays good homage to the Satan-themed horror cinema of the 70 and 80s, no more and no less. I know that I'm pretty alone with my opinion, because everyone seems to love the hell out of it, doesn't matter if average horror fan or serious film critic (Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars!). It's not bad and it's not overrated, it's just... hm, I think, this just wasn't exactly made for me. As you may know, I have my share of problems with most of Ti West's output, mainly because of his super-slow slow-burn style, that not just feels boring to me, but also quite pretentious, as if he wanna say: "Look, I know Horror better than you!"


Okay, it didn't exactly bore me, but there are many, many scenes that are way too dull, way too slow, scenes where not much is happening, scenes that seem to go on forever. I also though that the ending, which actually starts out gripping, quickly becomes odd, unnerving and ultimately highly underwhelming. That said, there's plenty of stuff that I enjoyed about it: the acting is great, especially the performances of Tom Noonan ("RoboCop 2"), Mary Woronov ("Silent Night, Bloody Night") and Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha") who somehow reminded me of the glorious P.J. Soles. Production design and all the little nods to 70s/80s cinema (old-school opening credits, frequent zooms...) look just awesome, cinematography (Eliot Rockett, "The Innkeepers") and music (Jeff Grace, "Stake Land") are terrific, thumbs up for The Fixx' "One Thing Leads To Another", and scenes like the shot-girl shocker or the ritual-girl-wakes up sequence...
bloody brilliant filmmaking!





"The House of the Devil" may be the better-looking, better-produced movie, but "Babysitter Wanted" is so much more entertaining and so much more tense with faster pacing and a more straightforward direction. I also think that story and screenplay of "Babysitter Wanted" are so much more intriguing and fascinating, so much more twisted and so full of unforeseeable surprises. "The House of the Devil" is an interesting and stunningly gorgeous-looking movie, but lacks in susbstance and originality.

BABSITTER WANTED  -  8/10
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL  -  6/10


7 comments:

  1. I may just give 'Babysitter Wanted' a whirl!

    It's been a while since I've watched a gory film. I tend to favour more ghostly tales.

    Great reviews, as always :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to, Yvonne, it's a fabulous flick, and actually not that gory.

      Delete
  2. I love both. I think Babysitter Wanted wins though

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yay! Babysitter Wanted! I still prefer this title over House, but House does have it's nostalgic demeanor...


    Still, BABYSITTER WANTED FTW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both good flicks, but BW is definitely better.

      Delete
  4. I think Babysitter Wanted sounds like the one to watch.

    ReplyDelete

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