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Web Stalker – Do You Dare Visit The House of the Devil?

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The release of ultra low-budget shocker The Roost (2004) made writer-director Ti West an instant “wunderkind of American indie horror,” and had studio folk jockeyed for the chance to exploit the brash young talent. Thing is, West doesn’t seem much interested in playing the game their way. After an abortive attempt — West delivered his cut of Cabin Fever 2 in 2007 and the powers that be still haven’t figured out what to do with it — he went back to his indie roots. And a good thing, too: Those in the know — including me — think House of the Devil is the best thing West has ever done.

Word of House began trickling out just as it became all-too clear that something had gone very, very wrong with Cabin Fever 2Bloody Disgusting posted the first stills in February 2009, and the announcement that House of the Devil was premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere only whetted fans’ appetites: It quickly became the festival’s only “must see” title. “This was the only film in the Tribeca Film Fest’s genre/horror line up that I was at all interested in,” said “Prisoner Abel” (Bloody Good Horror); “I can’t wait to f—ing see this. It’s got all I like in a horror film…Devil s–t, 80’s and f—ing amazingness lol” (HorrorFan4Life, Bloody Disgusting); “It does look good, doesn’t it? I like the flash of imagery, and of course…..Tom Noonan.” (GeekOfEvil, Twitch)

It should have been clear sailing from then on, with little for West to do but prepare for his victory lap. But when are things that simple? Mere days before House of the Devil took its Tribeca bow, West revealed to Spout that the film’s producers had made last-minute cuts against his will, removing some four minutes of footage for “pacing.” Said West, “If someone’s telling you to cut something in your movie and you’re 100 percent confident that they’re wrong, it feels like you’re being raped… that’s a bit of an overdramatic statement for this situation, but it’s the same feeling.” Fans apparently agreed: “Ti, if you’re reading this, do everything in your power to get your real movies out, at least as director’s cut dvds. I know it’s not necessarily in your hands, but keep fighting these pricks, because you have fans that want to see the movies you made.” (Chris, Spout)

Cuts or no cuts, the reviews are rolling in and things seem to have worked out: Scott Weinberg at FEARNet wrote that “Ti West seems intently focused on becoming an indie horror version of Terrence Malick. His films are slow, languid, deliberately-paced — but also smart, subtle, and disconcertingly cool to look at … This is a hard-working guy who makes strange, challenging, and surprisingly unique movies.” Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting said, “The House of the Devil is easily Ti West’s most accomplished work to date and it’s a film that both West and Dark Sky Films/MPI should be very, very proud of.”

Me? I say House will probably rank among the top-three American horror films of the year, and the one in which West makes good on the promise of The Roost. Don’t let the office politics bring you down, Ti; just get busy bringing us more smart, scary stuff!

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