Horrible Beginnings: George Melies’s The House of the Devil.

Many consider George Melies’s 1896 three-minute short, Le Manior du Diable (The House of the Devil), to be one of the first ever examples of a ‘Horror’ film.

The film opens in the courtyard of a mansion with a sinister looking bat circling. Said bat quickly transmorphs into a man: Satan! The Devil proceeds to conjure up a plethora of demonic spirits with impunity. That is until our noble warrior arrives to ruin the party. He battles heroically with the haters of all that is Holy; dispensing his own brand of justice with his trustly crucifix, sending them all back to the firey horror whence they came.

Although the intended meaning was one of mild humour rather than terror, nevertheless the signifiers of what would later become staple horror generic are present: gothic architecture, supernatural figures, the fight of good versus evil.

Is the film scary? Not a chance. Interesting? Yes. Because it is worth considering that maybe the fundementals of the Horror genre haven’t strayed that far, and in the case of movies, the complexities of human fear are largely unchanged.

Watch it below and see what you think.

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