The Haunted House industry has been a staple of autumn in North America (and a few other lucky parts of the world as well) for hundreds of years now, so it’s only natural that horror filmmakers would gravitate towards the subject. Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House LLC is the latest of these films, and features some of the best use of the found footage/mockumentary style of filmmaking in recent memory.
Hell House LLC presents itself as a documentary of sorts, with filmmakers chronicling their investigation of the titular haunted house attraction’s mysterious malfunction, which resulted in the gruesome death of several patrons and crewmembers. The bulk of the film is comprised of footage of and leading up to the opening night, as the movie slowly reveals how and why everything went wrong.
Knowing right off the bat that most of these characters aren’t going to make it to the end does remove some of the element of surprise from the flick, but it also adds a layer of tension as we attempt to piece together exactly what went down in the Hell House. In fact, the build-up surrounding the house’s mystery is probably the best part of this film, as it cleverly manipulates audiences with several layers of footage dropping subtle hints about what’s really going on.
With the exception of the obsessed founder of this new Halloween attraction, the main characters are rather flat, though they are consistently likeable and don’t make that many idiotic decisions. It might have greatly improved the tragic aspects of the story if the characters had been fully realized before their horrific demise, but the mystery behind the house is the real heart of the story.
Surprisingly enough, the scares were incredibly subtle, with little to no traditional jump scares. While the repeated shots of crowds attempting to run away in fear can get a little tiresome at times, this is a genuinely suspenseful movie that carefully sets up its scares in a way that actually contributes to the story.
That being said, the house’s backstory could have been fleshed out a bit more, and the final reveal definitely could have used some work. The journey is more fulfilling than the destination with Hell House LLC, which might be disappointing to some viewers, but it’s still one hell of a creepy journey. The film also manages to capture that illusive Fall atmosphere, which is always a bonus for Halloween movie marathons.
Regardless, this is the best found footage film that I’ve seen this year, and it’s certainly a must-watch for the 2017 Halloween season. The final moments might not live up to the mysterious reveal that we were promised, but this is still an incredibly tense and entertaining ride, much like the Hell House itself.
Hell House LLC is available now on VOD!