Some movies win you over in the first five minutes. The House of the Devil opens with stylized tracking shot following coed Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) as 1980s John Carpenter style synth music plays in the background. Suddenly, it's 1984!
Desperate for money, college sophomore Samantha accepts a babysitting job for a strange family (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), the sort who appear wholesome in the surface, but are hiding something dark. Although she's somewhat skeptical, they offer her a nice paycheck. A night of terror follows for poor Samantha. Greta Gerwig also appears as Samantha's best friend.
The House of the Devil takes it time and gradually builds up the tension. Ti West, director of the film, dipped into classic auteur horror for inspiration, maybe in response to the "found footage" movies that dominated the 2000s. House of the Devil is cinematic, a mishmash of 1970s and 1980s horror.
The style and pacing allow for repeated viewings since new clues will be reviewed. The film was also ahead of the curve its retro style that's been copied by more popular genre fare.