Writer-director Ti West's crisp, economical, satisfying little horror pic reclaims the pleasures of the kind of old-school formula that the jokey Scream franchise deconstructed into satire.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
After years of vivisectionist splatter, here is a horror movie with real shivers.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Things quickly get silly and unscary.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
West avoids cliche and cheesiness with wise casting choices. Donahue's naturalistic performance is as persuasive as the subtly sinister portrayals by Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
West, a rising young director of minor cult pleasures, comes clean here about his love for all things Bava (Mario) and Carpenter (John).
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Gravely gorgeous in the style of a storybook Snow White, Donahue gives eloquent reaction shots and nails West's piece de resistance -- a bounding, Walkman-soundtracked, Jazzercise dance through the house.
Nick Pinkerton - Village Voice
The film may provide an introduction for some audience members to the Hitchcockian definition of suspense: It's the anticipation, not the happening, that's the fun.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Even the familiar tropes of The House of the Devil are familiar in the right way, like an old, bloodstained sweater.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
In keeping with his models, West is concerned with not suspense exactly but the ritual withholding and ultimate lavishing of bloody chaos.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Call it the best '80s babysitter-in-peril movie never made.
Peter Debruge - Variety
Although the payoff is creepy, it takes a little too long to arrive -- and when it does, it's about as worn-out as the movie's title.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
The classical structure slowly builds tension before erupting into a decisively gory finish, harkening back to a smarter and more nuanced era of spooky storytelling.
Eric Kohn - indieWIRE
The House of the Devil is really a romance: a love letter to the kind of gal we thought had given up the ghost.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
A horror film with no punch.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
In the end, this homage to '80s horror is little more than a faithful flashback -- authentic in execution but about as scary as something you saw again and again way back when.
David Germain - Associated Press
West's assured way with widescreen framing, long takes and silences followed by sharp if explainable noise are almost cruelly funny in their heart-stopping pleasures.
Robert Abele - Los Angeles Times
The House of the Devil isn't just a movie: it's an experience. It joins the league of Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen as one of the most diabolical entries in the modern horror library.
Sean Edgar - Paste Magazine
If you don't get a kick out of watching doomed babysitter Samantha put on that portable cassette player and dance around that creepy house to the strains of the Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another," you might need a course in Horror Appreciation 101.
Josh Ralske - TV Guide's Movie Guide
The problem with it, and with House of the Devil, is that it's mostly pedestrian stuff leading to a pay off that's just not enough.
Cole Abaius - Film School Rejects
Sam's end is disturbing but also banal, even silly, but the end is not the point. The point is your anticipation.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
In this era of torture porn and slasher pics, House of the Devil is a shining example of how to build atmosphere and tension the old-fashioned way.
Jen Yamato - Movies.com
Laden with dread and executed with a musician's sense of timing, The House of the Devil is better than a substantial number of the films it resembles.
Mark Pfeiffer - Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
A virtual refutation of all of the conventions of contemporary horror that manages to be terrifying precisely because it refuses to give you that gratification until you've almost given up wanting it.
Todd Gilchrist - SciFi.com
The sudden climax is a gore-drenched bonanza of Satanic delirium that seems to be making up for the calm that came before, if not spoofing the very idea of cinematic payoff.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
West has all at once crafted a film that beautifully reproduces the look and texture of a straight-to-video horror from the '80s, and filled it with the sort of nail-biting tension that works in any decade.
Anton Bitel - Little White Lies
Now this is how you make a scary movie. The House of the Devil is a delicious throwback to the golden era of Hollywood horror -- one that is unapologetically earnest and overwhelmingly committed to the task at hand.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
It's full of meat and marrow. I'm going in again.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
...there's simply never a point at which the almost distractingly uneventful narrative becomes as compelling as one might've hoped.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Imagine a bad Ken Loach film invaded by monsters from a George A. Romero movie that's run out of cash, and you've already visualised a movie better than this one.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
The pay-off is a little far-fetched, but by then we have had our emotional workout.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
The finale descends into predictable mayhem, but it's the build-up that'll haunt you.
Jamie Russell - Radio Times
A master of the slow-burn, West carefully creates an atmosphere of clammy dread through Noonan and Woronov's off-kilter performances and dialogue, and direction that encases Donahue in shadow or squeezes uncomfortably close-in.
Rob Daniel - Sky Movies
The power of this film lies in the approach to the inevitable final act, rather than the realisation of the act itself.
Tom Seymour - Little White Lies
Both an authentically scary turn of the screw and a stunningly meticulous retro homage.
Dean Essner - Daily Telegraph
Although the last reel is a little disappointing, the twist ending is a scream.
Dean Essner - Times [UK]
The film's nostalgic design is subtle enough not to dampen the seriously sinister atmospherics.
David Jenkins - Time Out
Like Paranormal Activity and Let The Right One In, Ti West's shocker favours old-school tropes - plot, character, suggestion and suspense - over gorno extravagance. Seems like the Devil has great taste in films too.
Jamie Graham - Total Film
Slow-building dread rather than all-out splat, House keeps you guessing which way the sneaky plot is going, all adding up to a satisfying shocker.
Kim Newman - Empire Magazine
while its furnishings may be old and not a little worn, in this house, genre fans will feel right at home.
Anton Bitel - Eye for Film
A truly superb throwback to eighties horror..
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
It favors tension over spectacle while delivering a palpable sense of helplessness.
Sean Axmaker - Seanax.com
By trading in loud and increasingly low-dividend "shocks" for well-earned dread and fear, West immerses the audience in a genuine shared experience.
Brian Holcomb - CinemaBlend.com
Alem da excelente ambientacao de epoca (e da propria estetica setentista), West concebe uma narrativa bem construida e tensa, resultando num filme tenso e eficiente.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
In today's ironic age, a movie like The House of the Devil that wears its homages proudly%u2014and wears them this well%u2014is something to be celebrated, and this Blu-ray release should attract it the fanbase it deserves.
Matt Noller - Slant Magazine
A very impressive formal exercise in style and restraint... [Blu-ray]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
The heroine walks about campus doing errands for about 20 minutes, then some semblance of a plot begins. Just too slow for horror fans. Paul Chambers, CNN.
Paul Chambers - CNNRadio
Less is more, and writer/director/editor Ti West knows it -- until he forgets near the end of this babysitter-in-peril nailbiter.
Brett Michel - Boston Phoenix
Fans seeking the immediate gratification of random shocks and sudden gore will be disappointed, but anyone savoring a sense of dreadful anticipation and menace will be enthralled.
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
There's a payoff in The House of the Devil, if you have the patience. Some of the scenes seem draggy, but the characters are complex, and their motivations are explained.
Peter Hartlaub - San Francisco Chronicle
It may not completely succeed as a horror film, though I would take its deliberately funky and low-key vibe over the hard-sell nonsense of "Paranormal Activity" any day of the week.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
There is a lot about The House of the Devil to admire but West ultimately likes the slow burn a bit too much and it fizzles out.
Brian Tallerico - Movie Retriever
The cinematic equivalent of foreplay. It's all about building mood, teasing us, and, in between the lines, promising an eventual payoff.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
A first-rate chiller.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
If you like horror movies that actually have some artistic merit to them, this is definitely one of the more noteworthy pictures of the year.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
The film is a perfectly pitched old-school horror homage to a '70s/'80s-era of cinema that should have been.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
If you love a nerve-stretching build up to a seriously creepy payoff, you'll want to see for yourself.
Maitland McDonagh - AMCtv.com
Ti West knows how to set up his prey for the kill
Michael Wilmington - Movie City News
...there is one scene early on with Mr. A.J. Bowen that is as creepy as anything you're going to get this summer.
JimmyO - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
...a virtual refutation of all of the conventions of contemporary horror that manages to be terrifying precisely because it refuses to give you that gratification until you've almost given up wanting it.
Todd Gilchrist - Sci Fi Wire
The House of the Devil is not only set in the early '80s, but director Ti West chose to shoot and structure the film in a way so as to make it feel like it was made in the early '80s. In a way, this throwback style is reminiscent of what Quentin Ta
AskMen.com Staff - AskMen.com
Part of the film's off-kilter surreality comes from its retro look, tone, cinematography, and even music.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
Impressively directed with impeccable production design, this is a note-perfect pastiche of a 1980s horror film that's both suspenseful and scary without resorting to cheap tricks.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
As much as the slow pacing, the out-of-time quality creates a sense of dislocation, that makes what's coming for her even more unpleasant.
Dave White - Movies.com
Those of us who remember that strange and marvelous era when the grindhouse gave way to VHS pajama parties are apt to see a kindred spirit at work here.
Rob Vaux - Mania.com
The House of the Devil could have certainly turned out stronger with a shorter buildup and a more drawn out climax, but who am I to argue? I haven't been this scared watching a horror film in years.
Adam Tobias - Watertown Daily Times
More concerned with stretching nail-biting suspense to the breaking point than finding new ways of making heads explode.
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
skims away so much of the noisy and excessive cliches of today's terror flicks that it feels like a breath of fresh air
Chris Cabin - Filmcritic.com
This is scary in a way that unrelenting brutality could never be.
Karina Longworth - SpoutBlog
A slightly faster set-up, and slightly more drawn-out climax, would make this even better.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
With the suspense cranked so high, it's almost inevitable that the bloody finale comes as a bit of a letdown.
Andy Klein - Brand X
Devil is generously unassuming, making the film more of a secret handshake than a blood-spattered, deafening gorefest. The attention to mood and setting is marvelous.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
From the opening statistic about documented instances of devil-worship, West aims for a mix of the plausible and the ridiculous...
Noel Murray - AV Club
When the Karo syrup finally hits the fan, the film loses its footing some, but only because no concrete explanations could possibly do justice to West's expert buildup.
Keith Uhlich - Time Out New York
70s-savant writer/director Ti West has come up with a satanic-panic stroke of genius with The House of the Devil.
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com
From his era-appropriate soundtrack to the visual style of his opening credits and his slyly reverential camerawork, West gives his movie the look and feel of a 25-year-old relic, yet nothing about 'Devil' seems stale.
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
The main reasons to see this deliberately retro and derivative flick, which borrows freely from Satanic cult and babysitter-from-hell subgenres, are iconic actors Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov in their first teaming.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
You have to wait for The House of the Devil to deliver on its promises -- but when it does, holy crap.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Ti West has been building a reputation among horror fans as an expert in the art of the slow burn, and more power to him for exhibiting something that seems to be increasingly rare in filmmakers in any genre: patience.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
That's the problem with this sort of homage: Unless you've got a startling new take, you wind up with a movie that's been done hundreds of times before, to much better effect.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
Written, directed, and edited by Ti West, this movie is an old-school tension builder, slowly ratcheting up the anxieties of the audience who, of course, is fully aware that something bad is going to happen.
Scott Collura - IGN Movies
An old school vintage terror yarn that comprehends how horror rules when simmering to a slow boil percolating in its own solidly crafted narrative juices, as opposed to a kneejerk reaction slice 'em up overcooked brew.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Carefully, perfectly, beautifully built occult horror follows the roadmap of the early '70s and '80s Indie Screams with reverent precision and the occasional, wise reference to the cannon.
Sara Maria Vizcarrondo - Boxoffice Magazine
Slow, yet oddly spellbinding, horror film ... a living, breathing nostalgia piece oozing period authenticity
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
...despite his fine attention to detail, a great cast and a deliciously edgy build, West can't bring his film to the finish line.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
This pitch-perfect genre throwback would be right at home among the creaky and weird supernatural thrillers of the 70's and 80's. (And yes, I mean that as a compliment.)
Brian Juergens - CampBlood.org
A group of people old enough to remember VHS parties may very well have flashbacks of the old days - for better and for worse - should they visit The House of the Devil.
Jordan Hoffman - UGO
Start[s] to add up after a while to a faintly unbearable level of dread.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Puts to shame most major studio horror releases. Classy even while getting down-and-dirty, unusually savvy about the importance of tension and character nuance over viscera and a soulless body count.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Director West gets credit for delaying the mayhem to the last 20 minutes, but fails to evoke a necessary tension until then.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Not a bad venture into the "girl meets devil" genre but a few rock songs short of a hit.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
To knock this movie for being slow is like knocking Airplane! for being silly. You might not dig the approach, but that doesn't make it a flaw.
Scott Weinberg - FEARnet
Yet another of this year's homage-facsimiles, The House of the Devil forgoes campy self-awareness in favor of reverential faithfulness--and in doing so, implicitly critiques contemporary horror cinema.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine