What is it all about?
Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.
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I guess like many, you saw the poster and the description above it and thought “Oh shit-another boring Found Footage horror, offering the same old crap”, many probably haven’t bothered with this review, instantly dismissing the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover” and who can blame them, I mean the Found Footage or FF for short is now on its last legs. Even the film that virtually started the modern craze The Blair Witch saw its own sequel flop badly this year, despite some glowing reviews and how many times have we seen a documentary crew investigate an old building, never to be seen again! I mean if I was on a team like that and was offered a case, I be like “Get out of here, you crazy damn fool-haven’t you seen countless of straight to DVD Horrors?”
So I guess for the remaining five readers who have decided to read this review, a big thank you for clicking on and guess what? You are now privilege to a secret that only a few know! That Hell House LLC is quite possibly one of the finest FF movies ever made. Hello? Hello? Anyone still there?
For the remaining three readers left (as I guessed I lost two for not believing me), that’s right, Hell House LLC rocks to the max. As an horror veteran its very rare I get spooked these days, but even watching this in broad daylight, I found myself breathing in unease air and I rocked back and foe with an uncomfortable pose. I was just glad for the rays of the sun entering my room, because if I watched this in the quietness of the dark, then I doubt I would have had much sleep in the night.
My fellow critics at HCF know I don’t get scared easy, all this Clown phobia and sightings, if I saw one, I be like “Why you dressed like that you clown?”, even when I was a kid and IT was all the rage, I found Pennywise more cool than frightful. But damn this film! If I saw the clown from this movie, I to put it bluntly would “Fuck this shit!” and run and never look back. That basement scene and the one on top of the stairs, no…no….no….no……no! “Fuck you clown and you scary shit!”
Its very rare I swear in my reviews so I have to apologise but I can only explain just exactly what I was screaming at towards my TV at the time. It was the same during the scene of one of the crew who woke in the middle of the night to a surprise! Again, fuck that shit! If it was me, well it wouldn’t be because I be gone from that clown moment, but say it was! Oh shit! I would just die of sheer fright.
If this is what Stephen Cognetti can offer up as a first time director then I am telling everyone to keep an eye on the name. This guy has the potential of becoming a huge figure in the film world!
For one thing, he could show the writers of the recent season of American Horror Story a thing or two into how to make a proper faux documentary. This new found footage style is in the form of a TV Documentary show (similar to the cult fav Delivery, which I reviewed here https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2014/11/delivery-the-hughes-verdict/) and the reason why I love this new angle, is that it brings an air of authenticity about the whole tale. We know its not real, but you can’t help but be engrossed if the subject matter is so good! Hell House may have a plot that comes across as the same old thing but thankfully its delivered with a dark menace often not seen in the horror genre.
In America, houses being set up for a Halloween scare are becoming a growing trend and the documentary tells us that in 2009, a gang of friends, famous for creating a real good fun house, set up one in an abandoned hotel. On opening night, according to Police records, a “Malfunction” caused many deaths and we what we the viewer see at the beginning of this film, is eye witness accounts, 911 calls, TV News reports and a Detective who wisely utters “I would never set foot down to that basement!”.
The documentary crew manage to get an interview with the sole survivor of the Hell House crew who surprises them with unseen footage from camera’s that the police have never seen. Here is where the film morphs back and foe from documentary to Found Footage as we witness what really happened doing the weeks of creating the old hotel into a Tourist Attraction and what actually happened that night.
With the hotel all set up with creepy Halloween props and a dark and dingy basement that just fills you with dread, the film’s eerie background is on screen way before the night in question arises.
Unlike many FF films, there is never a lull in proceedings. The film quickly establishes where its going and when the scares begin to develop, they are a jolt to the system. The beauty of it all is that Cognetti doesn’t go for big set pieces and grand gestures, by keeping it simple and easy, the jumps are more effective. I mean a Clown mannequin standing at the bottom of the staircase looking up to you when its not supposed to be there and no other crew has put it there……I say it again “Fuck you clown!”
Like all films of this nature, the climax fails to come up with a sheer punch to the stomach and it goes off into silly mode but don’t let that put you off. It thankfully doesn’t come up with a jolt of an ending and thankfully gives us a resolution but maybe I was more disappointed that the film was ending because I was enjoying it so much.
One of the reasons why we created HCF was to bring you the most obscure horror films that may have missed the radar. Films like Session 9, The Torment, The Objective and countless others were missed by the masses and it frustrated us so much that this very website was born, to spread the news of a film. If the three readers of this review end up watching and loving this underrated horror and eventually spread the news about it, then we are doing what we set out to do because believe me:
Even if you are sick of this style of horror making , Hell House LLC is the last hurrah, a final fantastic deep gorgeous breath of a dying genre, that’s not only one of the best horrors of 2016, but also one of the best found footage horrors ever made!