Directed By: Stephen Cognetti
“Is she going to be topless?”
Sometimes finding movies can be a gamble. Sure it’s always been that way, particularly for those of us old enough to remember renting from video shops. You made your Friday night gamble and hoped for the best. If you didn’t know much about the movie you just picked up, you had to trust the quotes on the back of the box. Browsing online is somehow worse because at least the critic quotes gave a general trend as to the quality of the movie, now you just get some generic star rating that no one really understands and scores that move in increments, as though there’s a world of difference between 5.4 and 5.8.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that sometimes you find a gem that manages to pleasantly surprise you. The horror section on Amazon is probably one of the worst because they seem to throw any old trash in there. Are 43-minute sexcapades that have the word ‘ghost’ in the title horror? You can bet that Amazon seems to think so. Suffice to say I almost went straight past Hell House LLC but I’m glad I didn’t.
This is, unsurprisingly a found-footage movie although in this day and age that really has no meaning. It’s just shorthand for something that was primarily shot by the actors. Sometimes the conceit annoys me, but it only really happens with movies I’m not enjoying. So long as the movie uses it well then it’s just a valid an affection as shooting in black and white or something. Even the use of talking heads and supposed ‘news’ footage didn’t bother me this time around. It all worked as part of the full package (except maybe at the end when I think that things maybe get a little too convoluted).
There was an incident at the old abandoned Abbadon Hotel. The hotel had been converted into a “hell house” which is just a walk through Halloween attraction where various spooky things happen and a bunch of lights flash on and off etc. We first see something through footage uploaded to YouTube on opening night. In it, a group of people make their way through the house only for something to wrong in the basement. The couple doesn’t see what it is and shortly after the police arrive on the scene, shut everything down and swear everyone to secrecy. All anyone knows is that people died in that house, all except two survivors. One of them refuses to talk and then kills himself nine days later, the other shows up and has footage of their time at the house. What we get to see is what happens in the weeks and days leading up to that opening night.
Can I say I greatly enjoyed this one? Because I greatly enjoyed this one. For most of the movie, the characters and we are terrorised by one of those dumb fake murderous clown props that you can get in any cheap costume shop. That the movie gets any mileage at all out of one of those things is pretty impressive. It’s sort of the strength of the movie in microcosm: they take the hokey and manage to make it effective again. The house is full of fake props and all the cheap shit you’d get anywhere in the run-up to Halloween, but you come to dread seeing them because you know nothing good can come from it. The only thing that isn’t fake is the satanic scrawlings in the basement, but you can get those anywhere.
For those of you up on your bibles, you’ll note that Abaddon is never the sign of anything good and it probably gives you a clue as to where some of this stuff is going. You probably also shouldn’t name your towns after anything hell-related in general.
Do I have complaints? You betcha. As noted I think the end gets perhaps a little too convoluted for its own good and when thinking back on it there’s little motivation for what happens. Also, there’s a handful of moments that really stretch credulity. One character manages to record something incredibly freaky happening to him and shows the rest of the group who play it off as he and one of the other crew playing a prank even though clearly that wasn’t it and even while the other guy is stood right there saying that he wasn’t involved. That alone I could forgive, if being contrived, but when it there’s another incident later, we’re not given any indication that he shows the others the footage of that, or even why he’d want to stay. For movies like these I wish they just added another character who says yeah you know what, fuck this crazy stuff I’m going and then just have that character leave.
Any other complaints I have might be a little spoilery so I’ll leave them for now, but suffice to say I had a great time with this and wish that it had more of following or even a bigger release. It’s a shame to think of it languishing on Amazon next to shit like Strip For The Devil. If it just had a box then maybe they could put that quote on it.