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Satan’s Churches

Satan’s Churches (photo)

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Those who say that “Antichrist” is without redeeming value don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Because despite Lars von Trier’s images of child death, bodily torture and forest animals in various states of evisceration, not to mention dialogue that could cause temporary damage to the brain, “Antichrist” does have genuine healing power. A short time before the grieving parents known only as He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are (spoiler alert!) genitally mutilated, He teaches She the “five, five, and five” method of breathing — that’s five seconds each for the inhaling, holding, and exhaling of breath. Stress relief in just 15 seconds! Try it now — it’s free and it really works! Thanks, Lars!

Another Halloween-season cure for what ails — albeit longer to take, at 93 minutes — is “The House of the Devil.” This is a horror film without pretentious chapter breaks, psychotherapy spews, intimations of Ingmar Bergman and bullshit shout-outs to Andrei Tarkovsky. In other words, where “Antichrist” is torture porn feebly masquerading as high art, “The House of the Devil” is pure fun in the form of an early ’80s babysitter-in-danger flick, a subgenre idealized enough by director Ti West to allow very long takes, entire sequences without dialogue and a “Footloose”-style dancin’-with-myself scene set to the Fixx’s eternally catchy “One Thing Leads to Another.” (Or do you prefer grand-operatic arias with your scares?)

“Antichrist” taunts, mocks and ultimately tortures the viewer; “The House of the Devil” invites us to luxuriate in its proudly grainy, lo-fi, déclassé aesthetic — it’s a movie wherein a pizza delivery carries heavy weight, none of it symbolic. Our heroine is Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), a good-girl college kid with yanked-up jeans and feathered hair who answers an ad for a “BABY $ITTER” in order to fund a much-needed move off-campus. (Her dorm-mate is a 24/7 fornicator, the kind who’d never survive a slasher film.)

10212009_HouseoftheDevil.jpgWe sense from the movie’s title — as well as a printed prologue about Satanism — that there could be something unholy in this particular job offer. Such fears are not at all dispelled by the appearance of Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan), a freakishly tall, unnervingly soft-spoken weirdo who admits to Samantha that he doesn’t need someone to look after a baby, but, in fact, to watch his wife’s sick old mother for a night. In exchange for this, the man offers $400, which in early ’80s money amounts to a month’s rent, a pepperoni pizza and quite a few kick-ass Fixx tapes for your Walkman.

While there’s little to no rooting interest in “Antichrist,” “The House of the Devil” has it in spades. Following Donahue’s resourceful Sam up and down stairs and through every room in the Ulmans’ old, dark house, this minimalist B-movie gets us to love and respect the babysitter — no minor achievement, come to think of it. Even more impressive, West seems to turn back the clock on American horror by two or three decades, ratcheting up tension by minuscule increments (“One thing leads to another…”) while devoting his camera’s rapt attention to everything — including the kitchen sink. When, at long last, the horror finally comes, it’s…Boom, right in the face. And still we’re smiling.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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