The House of the Devil 

The devil, apparently, lives in an out-of-the-way gingerbread Victorian, just past the cemetery, where college sophomore Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is lured for overnight house­sitting by an elegant, forbidding couple (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov, both queerly over-intimate). Pumping the audience with inhale-exhale zooms and out-of-the-way close-ups, director Ti West's ratcheting of suspense in this alone-in-an-empty-house tale is proficient if not psychologically piercing. What makes House stand out above the bad crop of October horror is Donahue, who commands the frame as soon as she is left alone by her out-of-tune best friend, Megan (Greta Gerwig). Gravely gorgeous in the style of a storybook Snow White, Donahue gives eloquent reaction shots and nails West's pièce de résistance — a bounding, Walkman-soundtracked, Jazzercise dance through the house. Would that this scene's control carried into the finale, panicking into videocam illiteracy just as a steady hand is needed most.

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