Well, it certainly has been awhile but I’ve been slowly trying to work my way back into writing. Let’s kick this off with a fresh review of Hell House LLC. If you’re a frequent Dreadditor or someone actively looking for a new horror movie to watch, chances are someone has suggested you should watch this movie. Otherwise, I’d guess this one flew under the radar for the general public for the most part. So, let’s take a spoiler free walkthrough of Hell House LLC.
The Good: Sometimes with good movies, especially with horror, your expectations get set high from the feedback you’re hearing from everyone else. For that reason, if I hear a movie is the scariest, funniest, etc. ever I try not to read any more reviews and try to set the bar as low as possible. Otherwise, chances are I’ll end up disappointed. I went into this honestly expecting a knock-off of The Houses October Built but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the end. I can say that most of the reviews/suggestions that I’ve read to watch this movie are warranted and I can understand why it’s gained traction the way that it has. Maybe I had the bar set low, but it still exceeded my expectations and that’s an awesome thing.
The movie takes course of the period of a couple weeks with a haunt crew getting ready for their big money season. They end up bunking in the haunt they’re setting up and spooky shenanigans ensue. As far as the film itself goes, it has a few really strong points that compensates for its weaker ones. All I’ll say is that Stephen Cognetti knows his shit. There is a definite sense of suspense and dread that he manages to build through the course of the film. There’s an art to a scare and it’s a fine line between showing the audience just enough but without revealing everything behind the curtain. A lot of modern horror goes for the money shot way too soon and ultimately suffers for it. This is not one of those movies.
Another finer detail that distinguishes Hell House LLC from the rest of the pack is that it doesn’t hold your hand. I love when a writer/director leaves enough clues along the way that you can piece together the little gaps in the story. Sure, it’s great every now and again to have the story told straight to you but for horror, mystery can be a key component. From the very start of the movie, the “documentarians” and other interviewees are quite vague about what happened “on the night of the accident” and they also don’t seem very sure about what happened either. There are even moments later in the film that you end up needing to piece together yourself too. It shows a level of trust from the director that the audience doesn’t need to have the whole story to be spoon-fed to them and I can appreciate that.
The Bad: As far as found footage films go the always odd explanation of why someone is recording everything is kind of weak. The haunt attendees I guess make sense so from that point of view it’s okay, but as far as the constant recording when they’re setting things up I didn’t quite get it. To be fair, I think if this had been filmed in a conventional way the delivery of the scares wouldn’t have had as big of an impact. It’s not that the use of found footage was bad in this case, moreso just the reasoning behind it that nagged me a bit. As far as my complaints go, this one wasn’t huge.
Unfortunately, as far as the actual story goes, this doesn’t bring anything new to the table and seems kind of generic. That includes the group of people who all know each other and do the stereotypical young adult horror movie bullshit. Luckily it doesn’t have that big of an impact on the movie since it jumps into things pretty quickly but it’s a bit noticeable and the fact that one of the guys is a douche kind of plays into the story at some point. For what it’s worth, they’re also the best actors in the movie so it’s probably for the best that they get the most screen time. The worst of the acting definitely comes from the interviewees in the beginning and sporadically throughout the movie that speculate on the group dynamic and what happened on the night of the incident.
The Judgment: Luckily the direction of the movie prevailed over all else and delivered an overall creepy and great film. The ending leaves a bit to be desired and almost comes off a little cliché but it doesn’t take away from the rest of the movie. I’d recommend this one to any found footage lover or to anyone just looking for something good that’s a little under the radar. This one will make you think twice about going in the basement.