Life’s a Big Hot Mess: A Paragraph on ‘The House of the Devil’; The Rest is About a Necessary Rent Freeze

A utopian moment at the beginning of Ti West’s The House of the Devil stuck out like a sore thumb to me watching it last night. Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) is in the process of trying to move out of her dorm room that she shares with inconsiderate roommates. Samantha is somewhat strapped for cash, and so her new landlord offers to forgo the deposit in exchange for the first month’s rent in advance.

It’s utopian, because we’re seeing that unless government physically steps in and intervenes, we’re going to have a lot of nonsense occurring in roughly eight days. Horrible, terrible nonsense, that’s going to create mass confusion, panic, and possibly homelessness. Unless we get a rent freeze, there will be landlords attempting to evict their tenants who do not have the capacity to pay for rent without access to work. I signed a petition yesterday, and I begging many of you to do the same.

I made it through roughly fifteen minutes of House of Devil before I passed out. That, combined with the fact that there are more pressing issues at play means that I’m going to use the rest of this space to get a bit political. I will return tomorrow and focus exclusively on the film.

This is the first real test that this Ontario government is going to face in this crisis. Yesterday, a definitive list of what is essential (and thereby what is also non-essential) was outlined. There were 74 items on this list. Personally, going through the list blow-by-blow I was struck by how connected all of our industries are. If you’re going to keep grocery stores open (which you must), then you need a way to supply those stores hence why trucking, rail, and ship services remain open. Those need fuel, which means you need to provide that for them. They need maintenance, so that accounts for mechanical shops. You also need to keep the IT running to deal with potential server crashes that may persist.

Yet, going through it blow-by-blow, my frustration was with how much wriggle room was provided. Like, does bullet point two on that list suggesting businesses engaged in the sale of food mean that, say, bakeries can remain open? I feel like this legislation may have come out of an expedited need to regulate out disasters like the EB games nonsense on Friday. It’s the same mentality that spewed forth in the Prime Minister’s comments that “enough is enough.” Time is of the essence here.

Which is why the lack of a rent freeze is so befuddling. The clock is ticking! I hate responding to issues with the statement, “figure it out,” because I think it suggests that solutions are simple, when in reality they are not for our broken system, but holy hell guys—figure it out.

By figure it out, I have to stress that I am talking very specifically about a rent freeze. I am not talking about the “economy,” as it is being talked about in the United States, who has somehow decided that Ivan Drago in Rocky IV is the role model they wish to follow in seven days. “If [they] die, [they] die,” really? Hello?!? The reality is that to those claiming “it’s for the health of the economy,” it’s not. It’s to block the necessary redistribution of wealth that our society so sorely needs.

I read a wonderful essay yesterday on Leatherface Robocop, the thoughts of twitter user @sbodrojan. She is definitely smarter than I am, and also, I should just defer to smart people. Also she recreated the end of Beau Travail making her someone that we officially stan. I quote from her:

We cannot forget that we deserve space, that we have the inherent right to exist and be sheltered. We are here. Right now. In our rooms, in our apartments, in our houses. We must fight for them, and we must give them to those incarcerated or detained by ICE or unsheltered or displaced.

we deserve to sleep safe, and wake up, all of us, now and then and future-tense and now. we deserve to dream up a house together.

You bet I teared up. You bet that we need a damn rent freeze. Figure it out.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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