David: Today’s horror film was brought to us by Director/Writer Stephen Cognetti. It’s a found footage horror film that was originally released in 2015, but Stephen has recently been at work updating it. So our screener was Hell House LLC: Director's Cut DVD. You can purchase a copy of the DVD http://hellhousellc.com .
Let me just say as a rating teaser… I think I’ll be purchasing a copy myself.
Hell House follows a group of people as they attempt to make a documentary about the tragedy that occurred on opening night of a new haunted house attraction. As the film proceeds, we find ourselves following those that set up the house originally - a collection of guys and one girl who have a career setting up haunted houses.
The film is shot documentary style, with several different videos spliced together as part of a coherent thread. None of the footage is what you often think of as “found footage” - it all seems professionally shot and rarely shaky. Here, that’s a good thing, because there is a lot going on in the background of the film that truly adds to the scares.
Shannon, normally you’re extra sensitive to the found footage films. How was this one for you?
Shannon: Because this one was hardly shaky, it really didn’t affect me as much as other found footage films we’ve watched i.e. Blair Witch and Cloverfield. And that’s a good thing, being able to truly focus on the film really added to the experience for me. As you mentioned, this isn’t a found footage film as you’d expect, and I think it’s refreshing. It had a 48 hours feel to it.
I agree with you David, I too want to purchase this movie for myself. Not only was it terrifying, it was exciting to watch. What were some of the effects you liked the most?
David: let’s see how well I can talk about this in a non-spoilerly way. I really loved, as I stated before, a lot of the camerawork that allowed the different scares to be hidden in the background of the shots. That’s really what scares me the most in films, and when combined with the “found footage” scheme, it makes you feel like you’re really there. That realism is probably the scariest thing about this film - almost at no point did I find myself saying “that seemed fake” or “real people don’t react that way”. All the scares were organic and well put together, and the main plot - horrific things happen in a haunted house - is really solid. I’ve frequented them, and each time I’m wondering how much could go on there before it would be able to be stopped.
I also liked the actors and their characters quite a bit. Though Paul is a bit of a stereotype when he is first introduced, he really grew on me as my favorite character in the film, just because of the realism and the acting performance by Gore Abrams. He really exuded all the things you want - terror, but not in an annoying way, a willing optimism, etc. He did this due to an excellent control of facial recognitions and the tones of his voice, and I was very impressed.
Did anyone stick out for you Shannon?
Shannon: I’d have to say that Sara (played by Ryan Jennifer) was my favorite character. From when she’s talking to the reporter obviously terrified by what happened to her all those years ago, to the scenes from the footage of their time in that house… especially when they tried to film the commercial for the haunted house. Her acting in that only brought more questions to my mind and freaked me out a little bit.
Other than her, Paul also stood out to me. He was pretty much the star of the show, being the cameraman and all.
As for the scary parts, the scene that comes to mind the most is the final scene in the found footage: opening night in the basement. That was the best part of the film I think and reminds me of why I NEVER go to haunted houses. A) because who would know if something was actually happening to me or if it was all an act and B) because I know if someone jumped out at me I would accidentally punch them and get kicked out. That’d be a waste of my money.
I also enjoyed the shot of the clowns and the mannequins throughout the house. Freaky stuff man. What did you think of the overall story? Not just the whole documentary thing, but the abnormalities and what really went on in the house (without spoiling anything, would that be possible, David?) along with the backstory of the hotel.
David: Most of the time I’m a heavy advocate for backstories in horror films. I think it really adds to the mythology of everything, and so I’m glad to see we didn’t get it skimped on here. There is an excellent story to Abbadon, and yet, I also enjoyed that we didn’t find out everything. There is enough there that it could be transformed into a sequel, or possibly spun off into another idea (Stephen, if you’re reading this, I think an excellent idea would be to go prequel style, like the latest Annabelle movie. Set it early in the history of the hotel featuring the original owner. Great period horror waiting to happen - I expect a screen credit).
Yes. My dreams will be forever haunted by that mask. Thanks for bringing it up and making me shiver once more.
Is there anything else you’d like to add Shannon?
Shannon: I think that we covered mostly everything that I wanted to talk about. I agree with you about the backstory and not fully getting the entirety of what happened exactly. Good point on that prequel David! I loved everything about this film and I feel like our readers will too! “Loved It” from me! (5/5)
David: I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend all our readers to go to http://hellhousellc.com and purchase a copy for themselves. It’s a great movie for Halloween, which is just around the corner. This film will stick with you as you hide under the covers and pray for the lights. I know it did for me. I’m giving it an “A”.
Thanks for reading!
David and Shannon write about movies.