The House of the Devil (2009)



“During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults. Another 30% rationalised the lack of evidence due to government cover ups. The following is based on true unexplained events…”

So, The House of the Devil is about a student called Samantha who is desperate for cash (to escape her annoying roommate who I probably would have been friends with) and takes a mysterious and totally ill-advised babysitting job. That’s pretty much the premise and everything that happens afterwards is dastardly and weird and scary. I mean….The House of the Devil? I don’t think she’ll be leaving with homemade cookies and a fruit basket. Oh yeah, and it’s lunar eclipse time as well – which seems to be driving everyone a little crazy.

It’s directed by horror regular Ti West and stars Jocelin Donahue and Tom Noonan (and Dee Wallace!). I just looked up Tom Noonan and discovered they’ve made a 12 Monkeys television show? WTF? Anyway. Donahue plays Samantha who seems like a studious and sensible young lady. Noonan plays Mr. Ulman – the guy looking for a babysitter and he comes across as a bit of weirdo. But everyone needs money, right?

So the best bits first. The film is so fucking retro! I didn’t know much about it to be honest and when it first started I was under the impression it was set now but with a nice little vintage nod to the old movies. Then these terrific title credits popped up and I began to doubt this theory.


The yellow writing. The clothes. The SONY WALKMAN. The music that you the reader can’t currently hear. And then we’re introduced to Samantha’s best friend Megan and her hairstyle confirmed to me that The House of the Devil is definitely not set in modern times.


You don’t get hair flicks like that anymore. I liked Megan – she was a bit gross and a bit crude but she made me laugh. And she didn’t think the babysitting thing was a good idea – which it wasn’t.

But it’s not just appearances and clunky gadgets that make this film a throwback to the 70s/80s, the way its filmed and the way in which the plot unfolds has a massive influence too. And it probably won’t be for everyone.

The House of the Devil will be loved by some and hated by others. The people who love it will describe it with words such as ‘distinctive’ or ‘atmospheric’ and find it genuinely suspenseful. The people who hate it will say ‘nothing happens’ or ‘boooooring!’ – which is fine, everyone gets excited by different things. And whilst I admit I was a little surprised at how long the suspense does go on for, there was never a dull moment! It was a fun, interesting movie with genuine uncertainty and fear. I enjoyed all aspects to it – getting to know Samantha, the intentional humour, the vintage vibes, the eerie build up.


And don’t let bored viewers bring you down, this IS an eerie film. Whilst Samantha is babysitting we know that something bad will inevitably happen. We know it’s highly possible that someone (or something) very fucking scary is in the room upstairs. And we know that Samantha is going to break something if she keeps dancing round the house like that.


The House of the Devil is a film that encourages the viewer to look for clues. It wants us right there with Samantha feeling, well – similar to the way she feels I guess. As the evening progresses, Samantha knows something isn’t right (so obviously stuff does happen you bored bastards!). But as we’d all try to do in that situation, she ‘gets a grip’ and rationalises her fear.  Anyway, whilst the build-up might be slow-ish, it’s important to remember it does grow beautifully into a shocking (and bloody scary!) finale.


I enjoyed The House of the Devil a lot. I like old horrors anyway and the fact this was made in 2009 is a testament to Ti West, he really did a great job of making it look like a genuine throwback from 1981. Of course it has its moments but I can’t find much to grumble about. Something about the ending really surprised me. Not in a bad way, it just…..surprised me. The tone of the film changed and suddenly I felt I was on a different rollercoaster – I kind of went from the Aerosmith ride straight to Space Mountain. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And in a sea of terrible horror movies (especially on Netflix, where I watched this) The House of the Devil is a breath of fresh air.

So if you like the 80s and hair flicks and rank looking pizza – watch it. If you like Tom Noonan, long telephone cords and watching skinny girls dance around in tight jeans – watch it.

And if you love horror films – for goodness sake watch it.



About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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75 Responses to The House of the Devil (2009)

  1. Pingback: Netflix: What’s Hot for Halloween? | emmakwall (explains it all)


  3. vinnieh says:

    Nice recommendation sister.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Friday Night Movie Recommendation: The House of The Devil | The Creative Fox Den

  5. I liked this film a lot too. I thought it was kind of boring at first but then it started to get better and the ending was pretty good. I am all for a slow burn and this one almost made me turn it off but I was glad that I stuck it out.

    Great review Ems! You should watch more Hammer films – same feel and all and you will probably love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jordan Dodd says:

    Sounds intriguing Emma! Great review, I must watch this some time. I’d never heard of it before today!!

    Yet another film to add to the watchlist!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brilliant film! I really like Ti West – he doesn’t always get it right, but I love the retro infusion and his appreciation of the genre. This would be an interesting double bill with It Follows. Great review Emma!


    Liked by 1 person

    • emmakwall says:

      I 100% agree with you!!! The Innkeepers was good (and retro) too! I hear The Sacrament is worth watch also, have you seen that?

      Thanks Adam that’s really nice of you! It was harder to review than some films…..I don’t know why, I just wanted to get it right!

      I haven’t seen It Follows yet (BOO!) but I am so, so, so excited to watch it when I do. I bet it would be awesome double bill! I wish you were in charge of all the cinemas near where I lived! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Sacrament is definitely one of the better found-footage horrors I’ve seen, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as his other films. Looks great though. Touché on The Innkeepers!

        Haha, that’d end in disaster! 🙂 I’d do weird combinations like 12 Angry Men and Age of Ultron. Having said that I guess there were a lot of angry men (and women) in AoU!

        Liked by 1 person

        • emmakwall says:

          I can’t wait to watch it! I’ll watch literally ANY horror film so if it’s half decent that’s a bonus 🙂

          No way would that be a disaster!!! That sounds amazing! A double bill like that would be so much fun! I love 12 Angry Men 😀

          I’d buy a ticket!!


          • We could have our own inspired business on our hands here. “Double-take”, or something! We could be the next Cineworld! 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • emmakwall says:

              How cool would that be!!! “Double-take” is the perfect name. And we’d have no annoying adverts for 10 years either. AND reasonably price popcorn!! 🙂

              What would be our opening night double feature? 🙂


            • No adverts, not even Kevin Bacon or Meerkats! Hmm. If we wait until later this year, we could do Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1/2 and To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s three films, which is technically cheating. But nobody will know! 🙂


  8. guyportman says:

    Good review Emma. I had never heard of The House of the Devil.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. RavishingRoses says:

    Really great review! Might have to give this one a go! Love your blog would be great if you could check out mine xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmakwall says:

      Thank you so much Ravishing Roses! 🙂

      It’s on Netflix (UK and US) so definitely watch it if you think you may enjoy! Yes of course, I’ll go check out your blog now! xxx


  10. One of my favorite movies!! I love Ti West. He said this movie wasn’t trying to be an oldschool horror movie but rather a period piece which I thought was the coolest. It made me miss old horror, it was so authentic. I’m glad you enjoyed it too! Though I dunno about West not noticing because I didn’t think the last act was weak or messy, maybe I’m missing something. I’ll pay attention to that part next time I watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmakwall says:

      It was very enjoyable 🙂

      I enjoyed the whole film a lot, the only thing I found a bit weird was….


      I never expected the demon shit to be real! Lol. I mean, the satanic cult was brilliant, I loved the whole scene and all that followed with the blood and the chasing around the house. But I never expected for all that claptrap to actually be TRUE! Haha. Was strange.

      HI SUSAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      • Okay YES you’re right…the demon being real was like WTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTF x 100. hahah. Now that I’ve thought it over too…I guess the last act was a bit hectic and maybe not so smooth transitioning from the house to outside to the hospital too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • emmakwall says:

          *SPOILER COMMENT!*

          Yeah I just thought WTF?!!! I never expected it to be REAL! I thought they were just nutters haha.

          The bit at the hospital really confused me but I read a bit afterwards and apparently she just couldn’t die because of the devil baby. I think Mr Ulman or one of this family said something to that effect ‘nothing can stop it’ or whatever.

          It was a bit hectic but it was kinda fun after the build up. I’m not sure if I would have preferred the satanic stuff not to be real though.


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