Before I get started here I'll offer a small disclaimer. My idea of a good horror flick runs along the lines of the cerebral versus the 'in your face' type of splatter/gore that is typical of the genre today.
As most who post here likely know, the 80's and early 90's in America were representative of a time of Satanic scapegoating on the part of the populous and on the part of the media in particular (aka The Satanic Panic).
We've all heard the crazy stories about ritual murder and about how the young folks of the country were all susceptible to some diabolical Satanic master plan (ask Maury Terry ) formulated to either indoctrinate the youth or sacrifice them.
The House of the Devil is a kind of tribute to that time. It's set in the 80's and tells a cautionary tale that will be familiar to some, new to others, but probably welcomed by all who like a slow burn horror flick.
The basic premise of the film, without giving away too much, is that a college student who needs cash quickly, finds a job that's obviously too good to be true. In a way way that demonstrates the director's true understanding of the word 'atmospheric', madness ensues.
The movie's attempt to embrace the 80's in America is one of the most enjoyable parts of the film. Most who try take only the most garish parts of the decade and basically caricature them. This film was very accurate in the details of how the decade was (small town) all the way down to the main characters' brick sized Sony Walkman that played cassette tapes.
Most of the actors in this film are relatively unknown but for the the glaring exception of Tom Noonan. Noonan cannot help but portray creepiness and is superb in this film. The supporting cast also did an excellent job.
All in all, I can't find anything wrong with this film. I watched it, and despite the late hour, started it over and watched it again. It's a great throwback film to the horror films of the 80's, it's a great atmospheric horror in it's own right and it's damn entertaining to boot.
Just to say, this is a wonderful resource for the kind of material Fnord speaks of above. http://terrortransmission.com/ Apologies if this has already been mentioned in another thread but I only discovered it a few nights ago. The presenters - who I'm pretty sure are Satanists themselves - are horror film buffs and offer all kinds of titbits and insights into the films they choose to discuss in their weekly podcast. They play the film quietly in the background and then talk the listener through it scene by scene (so you'll need to have seen it first); it's rather like watching an old favourite with a couple of pals and some snacks. The most recent is a two-parter special on "Rosemary's Baby" - highly recommended.
"Here's to Artifice!" - Anton Szandor LaVey.