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[Review] ‘Hell House LLC’ is a Chilling Good Time!

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!



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COMMENTS

17 Comments
  • Munchie

    I enjoyed it. Very creepy, and the found footage angle doesn’t seem tired somehow. Plus the lead girl is super cute.

  • MODOK

    I agree with the review. The payoff wasn’t spectacular, but the build-up was indeed pretty solid. Although The Houses That October Built is supposed to be a love-letter to Halloween and pop-up haunts, Hell House LLC captured the atmosphere much better. (Not to mention it’s a far better movie overall.)

  • sliceanddice

    Fun enough distraction. Strong opening.

  • Kyle Cole

    I was surprised at how effective this one was for a found footage film. I almost passed on it until i saw several good reviews. I was glad i gave it a shot!

  • Necro

    Cool! Looks good to me

  • Frank Gambino

    I saw this movie a while ago. It was really good.

  • Micah Unice

    I always wondered why this didn’t get more attention.

  • Pluto Hiller

    I wanted to like this. Found footage just doesn’t do it for me, ever. I give them a shot because of the stories they tell, but I can’t buy into the aspect that we’re supposed to pretend it’s real. The terrible camera angles and poor quality just ruins it for me and comes off as a money saving gimmick from the filmmakers. Personally, I would like to see remakes of found footage films without the gimmick.

  • Derek

    Watched this on amazon prime a few weeks ago and really liked it! It’s not perfect but coming from a found footage hater I completely forgot this was found footage until the shakey ending. The subtle scares were great and the atmosphere was incredible! I loved this way more than The Houses October Built. Definitely recommend.

  • Elizabeth

    Interesting. I’ve been ignoring this because I figured it was just another crappy time suck. Also, don’t ever go into a hotel that’s named after another word for Hell (the more you know).

  • Nick Botic

    I’m a found footage junkie, but I can still admit that the lion’s share of films of that style are generally garbage. For whatever reason though, I still watch every one I come across, and I saw this one at the beginning of the year, and have spent the time that has passed insisting to people that this was worth their time.

    The review is right, the big reveal leaves a bit to be desired, but the build-up is phenomenal. This was the first found footage I’d seen in a long, long time that actually genuinely creeped me out. One thing I loved about it is that it didn’t rely on quieting all the sound, the blasting a shrill noise to effect a jump scare. They earned the scares they gave by being creative and clever. I’m looking forward to watching this one again come the end of October.

    • nrkist

      I haven’t seen this film, and I don’t generally like found footage, but two things from the trailer strike me and make me excited to give it a shot:

      1.) It seems like these people are actually competent actors, rather than questionably rated ‘amateurs’ with flat mumble deliveries. I didn’t see the equally annoying over-the-top ‘dramatic’ amateur that has to yell everything…or cry everything…or be afraid of everything. There are no middle sliders in the ‘dramatic’ amateurs performance.

      2.) This film appears to have dialogue. Actual scripted dialogue. Which concedes a script. More often than not, the actors in found footage films improvise their lines as there is essentially no script and barely any story. This results in a lot of back-and-forth that goes like this: “Huh? Wha—? What the… Shut the f**k up! Wait! *breath heavily for 4 minutes as catalogue of vapid exchanges has been exhausted*”

      It’s really important, in most found footage films, that someone get hysterical every couple minutes and shout unreasonably at their friend to ‘shut the f**k up’, even though most of the ‘dialogue’ is people breathing heavily.

      • Munchie

        Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into the writing of the script. I think you’ll enjoy it when you watch it and at the very least appreciate it. It’s genuinely creepy, with a nice ambiguous ending.

      • Nick Botic

        I agree, the acting is definitely better than most found footage. The cast has a problem chemistry that shows throughout the film. And as for the dialogue, there are one or two outbursts that I can recall offhand, but they are representative of the situations presented. When someone tells someone else to shut the fuck up, it’s because shutting the fuck yo is actually what needs to happen at the time.

        Like I said, I can’t recommend this film enough. Check it out and get back to us on what you think!

        • nrkist

          It’s not bad. There is some bizarre behavior by the characters that seems senseless.

          Otherwise, it’s pretty competent and reminds me alot of the Australian film The Tunnel, which is kinda a million times better in all regards. But, that’s still a good league to be in.

          It’s kinda missing the ‘reason’ the characters ‘need’ to get this haunted house up, and are willing to put up with some weirdness and kinda mentally pass it off as someone else in the house f’ing around or being a little cooky.

          Crazy, impossible things happen and some character says, “quit screwing around”, when they already knew someone (or something) was in the house on night 1.

          It has some good scares, and it’s mostly constructed well. I’d recommend…but it kinda has some of the seemingly inescapable issues of most found footage films.

          I’d recommend The Tunnel over this, and give this film a weak followup recommend if someone wanted something kinda similar.

          The bearded guy in the interview segments was super hammy. That would have been great levity, if he was, in the reality of the film, a goofball…but I think he was just a terrible actor…

          • Nick Botic

            Definitely agree with a lot of your points. The only one I’d contest is that, and this is just a maybe sort of thing, but the reason they absolutely need to get the house up would potentially be because they’d sunk quite a bit of money into it. Of course, I don’t think there’s any real mention of this in the movie, so I’d still have to agree with you, because it wouldn’t count haha. And The Tunnel was great!

          • nrkist

            Heh, I reread my post and it sounds really overly critical. I stand by the critiques, but I left out all the good parts. Aside from the single ham, whose casting is so outlandish and delivery so ridiculous, that I imagine it must be the director or producer, the actors are really great and likeable. There are some really great hand-cam segments that are genuinely creeping and well choreographed. The hand-cam work itself is really controlled. The dialogue is pretty great. Like, you get the feeling that a conversation was already happening when segments of the film get shown, rather than the found-footage trope of, a clip starting with two people suddenly initiating a conversation, as if they weren’t doing anything before the camera was rolling. The way segments/clips open feel natural as though there is a world that exists when the camera isn’t filming.

            Pretty cool film.

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