Pitched at such a hysterical level from start to finish that it quickly becomes monotonous, and it's tough to imagine any viewer not well versed in Polish history comprehending the intended allegory. Basically you're just watching some wild-eyed, confused simpleton running around killing people at the behest of a weaselly imp. Zulawski's disgust and anger come through, but they aren't enough to sustain interest for two hours.
During the journey back home, Zulawski fills the frame with all manner of perversions and violence. Jakub’s family has come to ruin and the moral universe is turned on its head. Both political allegory and cult horror film, Zulawski’s exuberant and dense style leaves a lasting impact on the viewer.
Like the director’s later POSSESSION, THE DEVIL is an immersive experience, employing a heavy psychedelic rock soundtrack, shaky and near-constant camera movement, and performances that seem to want to jump out of the screen and shake you. One doesn’t just watch THE DEVIL—one endures it. The film gains in meaning the more you know about Polish history..., but taken on a literal level, it remains a powerful vision of a world gone mad.