Director: Ti West Link: IMDB I love the convenience that cellular phones provide, but boy do I absolutely hate how these devices have caused the manners of a select group of people to go directly down the toilet. I consider myself a reasonably cheerful guy, however, I can't help but get overly irritated when I'm in public and there is an individual so involved in their phone conversation that they are completely oblivious to their surroundings. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I'm sure at least some of you have also shared these same frustrations. After all, I know I'm not the only one who's been held up in a line because the customer at the cash register is too busy yakking away on their cell. Nor am I the one and only person who has narrowly missed being in a vehicle accident because another motorist was messing around with their phone. And as an avid moviegoer, I can honestly say the experience of watching a film in a theater has forever been changed since everyone and their mother starting carrying cell phones. This technology has caused an increase in talking at the theaters, that's for sure, but what's more depressing is I can't even remember the last time I went to the movies and didn't see numerous cell phones light up like fireflies because people were constantly checking the time or their text messages. As for films themselves, especially the ones in the horror genre, cell phones have also created quite an obstacle by eliminating some of the dreaded communication barriers. In horror movies that were made more than 15 years ago, if you were hiding in the bathroom from a butcher knife-wielding killer, you were pretty much up the creek without a paddle. Now if you were in that same situation, you could just dial 911 with your cell phone and the police would be there in a few short moments. Cellular phones may have taken some of the chills and terror out of horror genre, but 30-year-old director/writer Ti West (The Roost and The Wicked) has put them right back in with The House of the Devil, a throwback to the old 1980s horror films that were more concerned about building suspense than constant, over-the-top gore. The House of the Devil is not without its moments of bloody peril, but West, who has a great attention to detail, generates his scares the same way filmmakers did almost 30 years ago: by utilizing a slow buildup, ominous music, a terrifying use of darkness and things that go bump in the night. West had an obvious goal in mind to make The House of the Devil feel like it was set and made in the '80s, and if I was asked to judge his film solely in that regard, you wouldn't be hearing a single complaint. West impressively provides his movie with a grainy look that is reminiscent of the films he is paying homage to, and some viewers will surely get a kick out of the inclusion of such '80s fads as acid washed jeans, feathered hair, rotary phones and personal cassette players that are the size of a lunch box. (The House of the Devil was also reportedly shot on 16 mm film to make it look more authentic.) In what was also a standard move by the horror filmmakers of the early '80s, West has picked relatively unknown actors/ actresses to play the young leads who end up falling prey to the movie's demented antagonists. (Pop quiz: What famous actor made his film debut with 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street? Give up? It was none other than Johnny Depp.) Horror films often feel more natural when they are headlined by actors who are not Hollywood stars, and without question The House of the Devil benefits from newcomer Jocelin Donahue's down-to-earth performance as Sam, a college sophomore who responds to an ad for a baby-sitting job when she can't come up with enough money to pay for her new apartment. Against the urging of her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig), Sam accepts the position over the phone, and as soon as we find out she must travel to a Victorian mansion deep in the woods on the night of a lunar eclipse it becomes evident something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Sam, of course, is too worried about keeping her new apartment to see the red flags that are going up, and she decides to stay the night even when her employers, the eerie-looking Mr. and Mrs. Ulman (cult actors Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), inform her that she will be watching an elderly woman and not a child. The roles of Mr. and Mrs. Ulman could have come off as exaggerated and unrealistic if they were handled the wrong way, but Noonan and Woronov effectively tackle the task with their fun and campy performances that are not too outrageous or excessive. They give new meaning to the term the odd couple, and once they make their first appearance the film really starts to take off. But the time it takes to get to that point will probably be off-putting to a large number of people, especially those whose favorite horror movies are in same class as the Saw and Hostel franchises. It takes quite a while for the scares and jolts to actually begin, but what's most disappointing of all is the heart-pumping and chilling ending seems a tad bit rushed. The House of the Devil could have certainly turned out stronger with a shorter buildup and a more drawn out climax, but who am I to argue? I haven't been this scared watching a horror film in years. Rating: 8/10