I don’t identify with directors. I don’t follow them, professing some sort of intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a film director or blindly worship all of the films in a director’s filmography. After all, even Guy Ritchie has his Revolver. Still, every once in a long while, a director comes along with an indescribable potential and no signs of stopping any time soon. This is rare. As a horror fanboy, the discovery of a solid and consistent director is even rarer. Thankfully, the world has delivered us Ti West.
The 31-year old director has already made for himself in the horror scene. Granted, a fair amount of the attention he was paid when first starting out was a very public dispute between West and the studio’s interference in the editing process of Cabin Fever 2. Luckily, this was the same year as his critically acclaimed House of the Devil.
However, the charm of West and his films has very little to do with controversy or critical acclaim. What makes Ti West such a memorable and engaging director for self-identified fanboys, such as myself, it is his own identity as a fanboy. While West, who has played director, writer, and editor to many of his films, is first and foremost a filmmaker tied to no genre, his familiarity with the genre makes for an engaging exercise in terror. For instance, House of the Devil is filmed in the style of a 1980s Satanic cult movie. But with a movie like this, it’s not just about the content or the look of the film itself. West manages to inject the era into every facet of the film, from the old-school Coke cups to the soundtrack.
But what’s most impressive about House of the Devil and even more so his recent directorial effort, The Innkeepers, is that these films are so firmly rooted in a time or place, but that does little to contain the fear. Even with such an established setting, there’s a timeless feel to his stories. West explores this in-depth with the Innkeepers which can, at best, be described as a good, old-fashioned ghost story. It doesn’t inundate its audience with jump scares or gore, but it is still one of the most effective ghost stories I’ve seen in years.
While these are two of his most well-known films and significantly different from one another, the common thread is director Ti West. Somehow managing to celebrate the classics of horror, he has managed to instill them with a modern sensibility. he has managed to make something timeless in a day and age where every film seems to have a shelf life.