“Call it ‘slow horror,’ ‘art horror,’ ‘indie horror,’ even ‘hipster horror’ if you must, but in ‘The House of the Devil,’ filmmaker Ti West is definitely doing something that stands apart from the usual guts and gore of most contemporary horror movies,” writes Mark Olsen in the LA Times. “Preferring the slow burn to fast thrills, West somehow transforms the mundane into the macabre, and when his film finally takes a step into the supernatural, it comes as even more of a shock because of the muted atmosphere that precedes it.” In time for Halloween, “The House of the Devil” hits theaters this Friday, courtesy of Magnet Releasing.
“Ti West’s ‘The House of the Devil’ finds its sweet spot in the paranoid shadow of misdirection, so it’s best not to reveal much of the plot beyond what you’ll know from watching the trailer: it’s the 80s, and a sleepy college town is obsessed with an impeding eclipse, and a young, pretty co-ed in desperate need of some quick cash takes a mysterious babysitting job in a big, secluded manse, for a creepy couple who don’t actually have a kid,” writes Karina Longworth at Spout. “It would be easy to peg ‘Devil’ as a superficial exercise in vintage pastiche –– the film non-ironically borrows the look and feel of the horror produced in the era in which it’s set — but West’s more impressive nod at classic horror is his mastery of misdirection.”
The Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton: “What makes House stand out above the bad crop of October horror is [star Jocelin] Donahue, who commands the frame as soon as she is left alone by her out-of-tune best friend (and mumblecore alum), Megan (Greta Gerwig), who oppresses every scene she plays with strenuous cutesiness and sticky line-readings. Gravely gorgeous in the style of a storybook Snow White, Donahue gives eloquent reaction shots and nails West’s pièce de résistance—a bounding, Walkman-soundtracked, Jazzercise dance through the house.”
“Ti West’s slow-burn horror movie is cast with numerous cult icons, past and present—from Cujo mom Dee Wallace to mumblecore muse Greta Gerwig,” notes Time Out New York’s Keith Uhlich. “The film’s grainy textures make it seem like a found object from the locale and era (a slasher-flick version of an American college town circa the 1980s) that it re-creates with loving fidelity. But West isn’t having a nostalgic laugh, plopping period trappings onscreen for their remember-those-days recall value. He’s out for something more timeless: to induce paralyzing fear.”
The L Magazine’s Benjamin Strong: “West’s gory final act is a herky-jerky letdown (the ‘Devil’ apparently favors handheld cameras) but the economy, rigor, and formal inventiveness of the film’s patient first hour deserve your Halloween weekend viewing more than a thousand ‘Saws’ put together.”