The House of the Devil is one of the best feature debuts that I have ever seen. I've heard reviewers compare this film to the early work of Polanski, and I would have to agree. If you took the isolation and the paranoia of Repulsion and the satanic horror of Rosemary's Baby, put them in a blender and poured out the contents, you'd probably get something like this film.
The story tells of a young college student (a near perfect Jocelin Donahue) who is in need of some quick cash, so she ends up house-sitting for an extremely creepy old couple (screen legends Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov) in an ominous house in the middle of nowhere. As the night progresses, she begins to realize that everything is not what it seems, and that she may be in real danger. However, the film does not arrive at this conclusion quickly. Director Ti West lets the sense of dread build for a good solid hour of the running time. This does not detract from the film, but only adds to the creep factor. The film has a retro-eighties feel that I really enjoyed - in the tradition of Grindhouse, but less extreme. The score, composed and conducted by Jeff Grace, is heavy on the strings and incredibly effective. As far as scares are concerned, you'll never forget the last fifteen minutes!
Ti West is a director to watch. He knows how to meticulously craft a horror film, placing an emphasis on mood and atmosphere, rather than cheap jump scares and gore. I highly recommend The House of the Devil. The performances are excellent, and the production values are extraordinary; however, it is not for the squeamish!