THE HOUSES OF HALLOWEEN (2014)
aka THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
Directed by Bobby Roe
Five friends, four men and a woman, embark upon a roadtrip across the southern states of North America to visit as many independent haunted house attractions along the way. With theme park haunted houses and ghost trains suited more for children, they’re hoping these haunted attractions will provide the horror and thrills to scare them as adults and look forward to finding the ultimate fright… but it might just come to them instead.
THE HOUSES OF HALLOWEEN, known also as THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT, opens up as a documentary, detailing what these haunted attractions are and showing a little bit of behind the scenes on what scares go on as well as interviewing the people who run these attractions and those who star in it. It’s a really interesting idea because it shows how these attractions are put together and what goes through their minds to create the scares on offer. Ultimately, it poses the question about the people hired to do the scaring, who I’ll refer to as the attraction’s cast. It has long been in my mind that when you enter these haunted houses and events, you never quite know if the cast member dressed up in a mask and apron chasing you with a chainsaw is indeed just an actor trying to shit you up or whether he’s genuinely got a screw loose and if he did catch you, he’d chop you up into tiny pieces. This idea of whether the cast can be trusted and whether background checks are done on cast employed is put to the attraction owners and cast members alike and they admit that most of the time no checks are done and that they each have heard about people hired to star in the attraction who’ve took their role too far and have took the job purely to go above and beyond scaring people to the point of harming. It’s a terrifying thing to think and throw yourself into, and this becomes the basis for the film which switches from its opening documentary into a found-footage film following the adventures of the five friends.
With its shaky cam recording, though not enough to be motion sick inducing, the film takes us to some pretty cool haunted attraction locations which I’m assuming are real-life tourist attractions. It’s great to see the group being frightened to death by the scenes inside as we follow them through the haunted labyrinth and witness the terrifying costumes and disturbing make-up of the cast hired to spook the visitors. Most of the attractions and the cast are top notch and you’d never find me going in there, that’s for sure!
As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that the group, with one of the guys in particular, are keen to find a thrill they’ve not yet come across – the ultimate scare – and they start to dig around internet forums to find the location of a mysterious underground haunted attraction that moves around each year. Their hope is to find it and be chilled to the core once and for all but as their road trip brings them ever closer to finding it, increasingly weird stuff begins to happen which any sane person would run a mile from. However, for them, it’s already too late.
I’m torn by THE HOUSES OF HALLOWEEN. I really enjoyed the beginning documentary aspect and the subsequent tours of the attractions but having already broached the subject of attractions going that extra mile and not knowing the mental state of those they employ, the film seems to have jumped the gun. We already know what’s going to happen so when it does, it’s not scary. That’s not to say there aren’t any creepy bits in it because there’s plenty of unnerving moments but the finale is something I expected since the opening. I’d have much prefered they stuck to the documentary style and did a straight look at these attractions or to stuck solely as a fictional movie, not combine the both.
An intriguing idea but unfortunately THE HOUSES OF HALLOWEEN seems to have jumped the gun as a horror film.