I think its somewhat humorous that there is now a trend of Horror films to be old school. Whether its a mix of new and old ("Vacancy") or fairly straight up old school in style ("The Strangers") there is now this trend and it seems to be catching. But none of those films, including the two mentioned, can say they are as old school as "The House Of The Devil". This is so old school that it has NO MODERN TENDENCIES. At all. Although that probably means many young Horror fanatics might dislike it, I have to admit...it has its charm.
Visually this is pretty awesome. It's style is so early 80s that its not even funny. From its long camera shots and its raw feel of film and un-smooth transitions, this feels like a lost classic from that era. Ti West (I've not seen anything else from him so this is my first interaction with the up-and-comer in the Horror genre) grates this film with all kinds of thick atmosphere and subtle suspense to the point that the simplest thing is somewhat creepy (like the weird drain noise that made my eyebrows perk). For the most part, this is where the film succeeds at its most in its intense and yet completely minimal style of 80s Horror feeling.
The story though, almost feels a bit too skimpy. It leaves a lot up to the viewer to interpret, I believe it might be to the effect that we struggle to piece it together as much as our lead young lady, but by the end I felt like it was a bit basic. Not to give too much away, I felt though that the 'why' of this suspenseful house of devil worshipers could have used some more exposition to the where or specific intent of the group. The very end of the film does give us a bit but it would have been nice for a bit more (who the hell was that deformed thing?!).
Overall, I was impressed with my viewing of "The House Of The Devil". It's style and reminiscent 80s Horror style had significant charm that overcame its short comings in plot and character work. The acting did enough to convince me of the story and that's all this really needed. Mostly for Horror fanatics that aren't afraid of a little throwback.
Written By Matt Reifschneider