An Unbiased and Completely True Review Of..."Hell House, LLC"
What's It All About?
After successfully running haunted attractions in the past, 5 friends drive to the small town of Abaddon, New York to open their latest terrifying endeavor, Hell House. The leader of this band has scouted the perfect location, a decrepit hotel in the town with a legend of evil in the past attached to it, the Abaddon Hotel. On October 8, 2009, the doors open and the large crowd eagerly begins to walk through the maze like interior of the home. Shortly into the first group walking through, things take a truly horrifying turn, and by the morning fifteen people were confirmed dead, both among the customers and the staff. There are rumors and theories about what happened, other then the official explanation of an unknown malfunction which led to the tragedy.
Five years later, Diane Graves seeks out those people who were at the attraction that night, even locating a journalist who had entered the now sealed off hotel to take photos of the interior in order to investigate the tragedy further. She eventually locates the only surviving member of the staff, Sara Havel, who gives the documentary team footage that had been shot during the construction of the haunt as well as the personal interactions between all members, including never before seen footage that took place during the event that sheds light on what occurred there.
The Hell House five: Alex, Sara, Mac, Tony, and Paul all take their respective turns filming aspects of the building of the house. It is clear that the longer they were in the hotel, that strange occurrences begin to happen. Despite the increasing intensity of the occurrences in the home, Alex (CEO of the company), presses the other four members to continue on at this point, and that the true life paranormal activity could only lead to a better outcome for them.
Even after arguments that escalate higher and higher, Alex manages to convince the others to stay and open on time, recouping money spent setting the place up, and building a level of confidence in the company to allow them to continue the business well into the future. Footage shot by the staff members on opening night show in horrifying detail exactly what happened that night and what the paranormal forces did resulting in the fifteen deaths that night.
So What Do I Think?
The found footage genre has, over the course of 20 some odd years, has managed to nearly kill itself on the vine. There are very few exceptions to the genre that make an impact in such a way as to use the same old tactics and tropes and make it appear refreshing. This movie is a prime example of that exception to the rule.
The movie itself feels fresh and unique. The cast is well chosen, interacting with each other in a way that felt natural, that they had indeed been friends and colleagues for quite a long time. The haunted attraction that is built within the house itself is actually very thought out and deliberate in making the user uncomfortable at every turn, and it would be fun to recreate this in a location as it is presented in the movie and see just how well it plays to an audience.
There is normally no logical reason for people to film themselves in these movies, but Hell House makes it a point to explain why the crew decides to film so much of the set up and background stuff. Alex keeps all of the tapes from all the haunts that the company creates, keeping things fresh and giving the crew a chance to review past mistakes to improve future haunts.
The backstory of the hotel is well thought out, and presents a conceivable reason for the hotel to 'wake up' and begin it's campaign on horror, culminating in the deaths. This information is presented well in the context of the film, building a little as time goes on and more information about the former owners comes to light.
The movie was done with practical effects throughout the run time, no CGI which I appreciated. I appreciated the fact that many of the scares in the movie were subtly portrayed and the makers didn't just go for the jump scare, which is really the poor man's use in horror movies. The slow buildup of the paranormal activity also felt genuine through the film. As more refurbishing of the hotel and more haunted attractions within the hallways and room go up, the more the hotel let's the crew know that it is not pleased with what it happening.
All of this culminates in secrets, lies and tragedy that befall all players involved. The lone survivor trope is played out in a new aspect, which was a great twist that wasn't expected and when revealed was an interesting take.
I recommend this movie for a night of chills and thrills and a truly entertaining and unique take on the found footage format.