Friday, July 9, 2010

How (Ti) West Has Won

  While I haven't updated the Cuts Happening blog in some time, I certainly have watched plenty of horror.  Horror is still the worn out teddy bear I snuggle up with every night.  Some folks read.  I watch horror films.  On a small portable DVD player with headphones.  Most of the films are just my own strange lullaby's.  Episodes of Tales from the Crypt.  Masters of Horror episodes.  Random favorites with director commentaries caring me towards slumber.  Some of the films still scare me.  Or at least, they fascinate me enough to write about them.   I will spend tonight's entry discussing a genre favorite of mine; director Ti West.

My first Ti West film was The Roost.   

This film was a refreshing new approach to the ol' barnyard spook.  Since my only other experience with "bat horror" was the campy Lou Diamond Phillips' Bats, I experienced The Roost as an original work.  The film is framed by some excellent narration by horror great and recent Fangoria Hall of Fame inductee Tom Noonan.  Here, Noonan's voice over just gives the film a certain edge.  A film that you might find stumble upon on late - late night T.V. 

The Roost was Ti West first showing us that he was an original voice.  There was a certain style in The Roost.  At first it seemed low-budget, but after a few viewings, one sees that the film just works on building tension.  Spaces of silence.  Not a whole lot of music video cuts or slam bang horror soundtrack stuff.  Highly recommend this film, late at night, lights out.

The film of Ti West's that really proved to me that he is emerging as one of the best young horror directors is the recent House of the Devil.

Tom Noonan returns, this time in a lead role of a creep-tastic dude looking for a last minute babysitter.   No one could have played this role more perfectly that Noonan.  At times the viewer may wonder what he is up to.  Is he a pedophile?  A killer?  A decent guy that is leading us away from something else that might come out and scare us?  Either way, the first 45 minutes of House of the Devil pushes the viewer into guesswork.  What's gonna scare me here?  What's gonna come out and get me?  Eventually, I found myself looking around my own house, wondering where the spoke was going to come from.  It's this type of build up and tension I enjoy.  Ti West is a master of tension.  The real horror certainly comes out in the third act of House of the Devil, but the build up is intense. 

The film also boasts a terrific look.  Being a child of the eighties myself, I really got lost in the look of the film.  The young babysitter, with he stone washed jeans, hiked up past her belly button.  The gum snapping girlfriend who would rather smoke cigarettes than warn her friend that she's crazy for baby-sitting some creeper's kid.  The film sports an excellent making of feature that even explains where they found some of the old school set pieces.  Right down to the Coke cups they found on EBay.  Ti West just seems to get it.  He goes the extra mile to include the detail.  to spend time setting you up.  So when the chills do come, it does not have to be the blood and guts you are scared of.  It is mostly the anticipation and the aftershocks.  When you find yourself looking at your neighbors differently, or lurching into bed from a few feet away, so that creepy hand does not get you.  I recommend House of the Devil.  It's spooky.  I will also, try and post more reviews.  Like I said, I watch a lot of horror and will always love the genre.  More to follow!

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