REVIEW: Hell House LLC
– By Stephen Harper
Once again we’re to discuss a horror movie that uses the formula of found-footage. No matter how many times you review a film that uses this technique, you can’t help bring up The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately there will always be comparisons. Films have tried to replicate this style, but rarely succeeded in finding that magic ingredient The Blair Witch Project possesses. Fortunately Hell House LLC breaks the mould.
Going into this movie I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t expect much. In my defense we have had to suffer numerous found-footage movies over the years that are absolute trollope! The synopsis I read for the film kind of sounded all too familiar: Five years after an unexplained incident caused the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour called ‘Hell House’, a documentary crew goes back to the scene in a hope to uncovering the truth.
I agree it actually states the truth, but one would be forgiven for not holding out much hope.
We begin with the investigation into the now infamous incident at the abandoned house in the fictitious town of Abaddon. The house is taken over by a scare attraction crew who begin turning the run-down home into a haunted house for the Halloween season. The documentary crew begin looking through the found footage documented by the Hell House team leading up to the opening night. It’s here we meet the main characters whilst they set up props, strobe lighting and basically pack as much scary stuff into one place as they can, including some freaky-ass clown mannequins. Whilst setting up the haunt the team decide to stay in the house, which itself has a history of being haunted by a dark cult. The team soon start to witness strange noises and imagery (especially involving those freaky-ass clown mannequins) – basically they soon become victims of their own haunted house.
As tensions mount and things get stranger, the team begin turning on each other as the pressure to have a successful grand opening builds and they neglect their own safety.
When the opening night finally comes the footage is very effective and atmospheric, in fairness, as is most of the film. The jump scares are predictable and there’s nothing unique on show, but everything is done extremely effectively and does build some serious tension.
The found-footage formula works brilliantly, but doesn’t feel totally authentic. Straight off the bat you know they’re all actors, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest as it’s so enjoyable.
The climax does fizzle out slightly, but all is forgiven for what is a very highly enjoyable, scary, technically sound movie. Director Stephen Cognetti has done an amazing job tackling a found-footage movie and embracing its strengths. Even though the comparisons will always be made to The Blair Witch Project and possibly The Houses October Built, somehow Cognetti makes you forget all of them and immerse yourself into his story.
There’s nothing cooler than having a horror film set at Halloween in a haunted house attraction. The questions will always be ‘what if something went wrong?’… well here you’ll get that answer.
Hell House LLC is a terrific little horror film that breathes new life into the found-footage genre.