The set up gets things going nicely: college girl Sam needs some cash for an apartment. A babysitting job comes her way and when it's revealed the `baby' is actually an elderly woman in a giant house, most of us would tell Mr Spooky and his equally spooky wife we're not interested. Of course, Sam needs the money and as this is a horror film, we know she'll take the cash and stay in the house. Cue a decent atmosphere that suggests the horrors to come and cue a very well done feel for the early 80s. Unfortunately, this atmosphere, while the film's great strength, is also its biggest weakness. The director and writer seems to be so set on evoking the feel of the time and therefore the feel of the films that inspired him that he forgets to have anything happen for a huge chunk of the film. Sam wanders around the house, dances in an 80s kind of way, watches some 80s news and uses an 80s phone and...that's about it in terms of events. It's got a great feel to it but a film, especially a horror film, should not rely on atmosphere alone.
Watch HOTD for a nostalgia trip or to get a feel of horror films that may be before your time. Just don't watch it expecting anything too impressive.