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After reading a glowing review for House Of The Devil, The (2009) that really attracted me (http://www.brutalashell.com/2009/10/film-review-the-house-of-the-devil/), i took the plunge and rented it. I was instantly charmed by the film's great execution and wonderful 80's mood. I wanted to see more from Ti West and started to look. At first, i was hesitant to go for Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009) given that i didn't really like the first one Cabin Fever (2002, reviewed). I had also read that Ti West disowned this film because the final edit had been taken away from him and he wasn't able to really execute his full vision. Well, i am glad i eventually rented it, and i can only imagine how much better the film could have been if the director had been allowed to finish it properly.
This film starts pretty much right after the first one ended. The ultra aggressive flesh eating virus has made its way into the water system where a bottling company operates. We follow the supply chain through the credits as water is extracted, bottled, and shipped to a nearby little down a few days before Prom night. Little by little, a bunch of people are getting infected, including hormone-controlled teens preparing for one last night of debauchery in High School. The film quickly moves to Prom night, where the virus explodes in full force and pretty much takes out the entire Senior year on the dance floor, in a beautiful homage to Carrie (1976) that manages to pay its respects while keeping it fresh, different and innovative.
In spite of all the negative publicity around this film, most notoriously because of the falling out from the director himself, this is really a great horror film that manages in about 80mn to bring back the charm of 80's horror flicks and the ever popular Prom Night theme, while updating it with decidedly wicked and edgy situations and modern and sometimes startling makeup effects. There is no CGI here, which adds to the incredibly organic feel of this bloody and gory affair. The film manages many yucks and delivers in the horror department aplenty. The film is also filled with dark humor with cool vignettes on jocks and geeks and other classic elements of high school life, including the very last frame right at the end of the credits.
In every other respect, the film is very well executed, with a fantastic soundtrack, good cinematography and very good art direction overall. Everything including the film stock used is geared towards bringing you back to the 80's. The film also has great acting for this genre, featuring an overall very good cast. In the lead is Noah Segan who you may remember from the horror neo-classic Deadgirl (2008, reviewed) and who has been making a name for himself on the Indie circuit for the past few years.
But it is not all good... The film does suffer from an extended ending that just feels rushed and botched. Maybe that's the result of the director's disownment? Maybe there were money problems, or whatever? That aspect of the film significantly affected my final grade, as i otherwise really enjoyed most of it. It's hard to tell what the movie could have been if the director had been able to "finish it". There is just not much information to base any guesswork on, but if House Of The Devil, The (2009) is any indication, i think it would have been moodier and slower-paced, which could have been better. Certainly, it would have most likely made the film whole, which as it currently exists, it simply isn't.
This is a very enjoyable horror movie that pushes all the right buttons and is very well done, from a well above average cast for such genre, to great visual and a genuine love for the 80's that transpires through almost every frame. But you are left with a slight aftertaste when the credits roll: the movie simply feels incomplete and rushed towards the end with several scenes that feel out of place and style from the rest of the film. You can only dream about what it could have been if the director had completed it to his liking. I really wanted to give this film an A-, but those problems prevented that.
- Laurent Hasson