I’ll be honest, when my partner and I were looking for something to watch one Saturday night and found Hell House LLC, we weren’t expecting much.
We were in that ‘ let’s watch something that isn’t too taxing on our brains’ kind of mood and this appeared to be your run-of-the-mill jumpscare found footage film.
A slew of sub-par films in this style became popular after the success of The Blair witch Project, and then later on with Paranormal Activity. Most are done without any attempt at originality or craftsmanship, and rely on cliches and following the status quo to entice viewers.
So, as I said, we weren’t expecting much.
However, I have to admit, by the end of this film, I had one hand poised ready to cover my eyes if required, while my other hand was slowly being crushed by my partner in fear.
Welcome to The Hell House
We loved this film!
I think a big part of our enjoyment came from the fact that we didn’t expect to love it. But this is a film that does the found footage genre justice.
It is clever, it is well-crafted and, it is genuinely scary in places.
and it’s not the kind of scary you might expect. It’s not jumpscare after jumpscare with a few cheesy effects thrown in.
There are jumpscares, but these are carefully positioned to have the maximum impact at just the right time.
The biggest chill factor comes from the subtle elements of the film; half-heard noises, slight movements in the background while the characters interact in the foreground, and we have to mention The Clown.
If you really don’t like clowns, then Hell House LLC is really, really, really not for you.
But don’t let this often-overdone trope put you off either. This is clown horror done very well. I’m not normally bothered by clowns at all, but the ones in this film knocked me off my game.
The acting is good, the pacing is steady once it gets going, and it reveals just enough backstory without over explaining. Personally I think one of the biggest let-downs of the horror genre is when film makers try to over explain their films. Sometimes, the unknown is scarier than any story.
It always goes wrong at Halloween…
Without giving too much away, because I hate spoilers, especially for horror films like this, the plot if fairly straightforward.
A group of young professionals travel to an abandoned hotel is a small American town to create a ‘Hell House’ attraction for Halloween.
It’s established early on that something when horribly wrong, as the film utilises the ‘interviews with survivors’ mechanism to fill in the back story.
Unfortunately, this technique tails off about a third of the way into the film, which is a shame because I quite like this style for plot exposition and adding a touch of realism to a horror film.
five years after the initial incident, a journalist and her crew are trying to find out what happened that night in the Hell House. Recent photos taken by a trespassing photographer lead them to believe it was more than just a ‘malfunction’, as the authorities claimed.
the main part of the film focuses on footage of the hell House team as they set up their attraction. You’ve got your typical introduction to the characters, who likes who, who doesn’t like who, and so on. But here’s where Hell House LLC does it right.
It drip feeds the horror. Tiny parcels of creepy are dished out as the team attempts to set up their show before the opening night.
Odd things start to occur; moving props, strange shadows, and bumps in the night; often caught on camera, and one by one the team is clued in to something not being ‘quite right’.
What I liked was that, in some found footage films, the characters often miss the crucial ‘on my god!’ moment caught on camera, so only the audience is aware of the spooky goings on. Or only one person sees it and no one else believes them. Yawn!
But in Hell House LLC, the characters not only see the freaky thing on camera, but will then show the rest of the team, making it far more real as that’s what any other rational person with camera evidence would do!
These characters act like you’d expect people to do in that situation (except leave when the creepy clowns started moving…) which makes everything that happens afterward feel even more real.
If you like the found footage genre, check this out. And even if you don’t, I’d recommend this one, purely on its ability to have you shouting at the TV ‘did you see that?!’ every 20 minutes.