- Entertainment and Media»
- Movies & Movie Reviews
'The Houses October Built' (2014) and its Sequel (2017.) Did They Die?
I have a soft spot for found footage. Where many find it a lazy way to make a movie, I find it a little more personal. It makes me feel like I'm watching someone's home movie, or in this case, a semi-documentary and if done well, it is very effective in creating an added level of atmosphere other films don't have.
I previously wrote about Grave Encounters, a lesser known franchise that I am a fan of which is also a pseudo-documentary style found footage film. In my opinion, if film-makers can continue making movies that cost less and can still keep up with the bigger film studious like Paramount who did Cloverfield (2008) for $25 million, then I am all for smaller independent one's to keep pumping out keepsakes for under $3 million.
What's it About?
The Houses October Built (2014)
5 friends take a trip leading up to Halloween to try to find the scariest most extreme haunted houses in America. The movie, filmed documentary style shows brief interviews held with staff that work at the haunts.
Because they are filming and asking questions, some of the hosts that hold the haunts become aggressively annoyed at their presence.
After visiting some popular hot-spots the group become privy to the name of an underground haunted house called Blue Skeleton. It's rumoured to enlist people willing to use real torture but no-one can say for sure how far they will really go.
Just what or who is Blue Skeleton and who keeps uploading footage of their group to the horror forums on the web?
The Houses October Built 2 (2017)
This film starts where the earlier film finished. The friends are now traumatized. The old premise of 'face your fears' becomes their new mantra and their passion for finding the best scares prevails.
Lured by the promise of financial gain they again embark on a road trip in an RV to find the best scare events. This time some of the remaining group don't want anything to do with an actual haunted house. They stick to the road well-travelled and do nothing described as extreme.
Zack hears about a place called Hellbent and there are hints that all is not what it seems. Someone is watching them. While they are busy facing their fears, it's possible their fears might be back to face them.
Has Blue Skeleton come back to finish what they started?
Trailer- The Houses October Built
Quick Film Info
The Houses October Built
Director: Bobby Roe.
Writer: Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe and Jeff Larson.
Date of Release: October 2014.
Genre: Found footage horror.
The Houses October Built 2
Writer: Bobby Roe.
Director: Bobby Roe.
Writer: Zack Andrews and Bobby Roe.
Date of Release: September 2017.
Genre: Found footage horror.
Fun Fact - The main cast of this film all go by their own names. The five friends names are Bobby, Zack, Brandy. Mikey and Jeff.
“I’m not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted houses. I’m afraid of what real human beings do to other real human beings”— Walter Jon Williams
My Thoughts on the First Film
Some of my favourite films use In Media Res (which means a movie that starts in the middle or near the end) and this is a film that uses it to create tension where there is none. Films like Deadpool (2016) and Kill Bill (2003) and The Butterfly Effect (2004) would be the one's that spring to mind when I think about movies I liked where it leaves you wondering how and when things will take a turn for the worst.
Brandy gets introduced to us as a semi-conscious, blood covered mess being plunked into a car trunk. When we are then introduced to the rest of the group embarking on a mission to seek the best haunted houses. It is clear something at sometime will lead things to go wrong.
I didn't watch the trailer before seeing this film nor did I read anything referring to its plot. It got recommended to me via horror movie group forums I am a part of due to my perchance for found footage. I simply decided on Halloween eve to watch the original and its sequel back to back. When I realized it was a pseudo-documentary of horror haunts in America on Halloween, I was so very excited.
Unlike many reviews that tarnished this film with a negative brush, I found the story-line easy to navigate. I understand the appeal of wanting to find the scariest attraction. As someone who participates in horror events, places that advertise “the event will leave you trembling“ is usually just a marketing technique used by the people who want you to come to their event. It makes them stand out to start a rumour that their haunt includes real torture. The quest to find Blue Skeleton and find out whether it is as scary as people say is not as far-fetched as it may seem. The group talk to people who have been and praised Blue Skeleton’s ability to scare and the same people unscathed.
This movie is subtle and creepy. It introduces trouble along the way and snippets of footage not filmed by the group showing up online kept me vigilant for signs that something was amiss.
I loved seeing inside so many places and I enjoyed the commentary from horror enthusiasts. I loved the introductory quote; “I’m not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted houses. I’m afraid of what real human beings do to other real human beings” as I felt it pointed out there could be a line crossed within the film. All signs lead to a grand finale and I was eager to see where this group ended up.
My Thoughts on the Second Film
I had a criticism early in the film and after finishing it I set about reading interviews with Bobby Roe to find out why it happened. I quickly discovered that it seemed it was an oversight in attempting to prove why Brandy agreed to come along. Dropping a few lines about her having some money troubles didn't really do it for me.
To explain the new camera views featuring aerials shots of parts of their journey, they bought a drone which was an expensive gift for the cameraman. The RV itself seemed a better model this time but was not explained.
The haunts that want to pay them to attend won't pay without Brandy. I think if Zack had been the one to have money troubles by investing in the new trip to help Brandy, she would feel obligated to help him. This would also give explanation to the new RV.
This movie is not as good as the original, it lacks the foreboding darkness of the first film. I know it is because of the different aspects of horror events they visit. They further convinced Brandy to come along by promising to not visit any specific haunted houses. Anything titled as a haunted house was off the list. This time, the places they venture into are sometimes comedic, mostly fun and to ease Brandy into a place where she feels safe.
I was still interested in what the group were doing because I'm awestruck and completely jealous of the amount and scale America makes of their horror themed spectacles. The Haunted Hayride and the Zombie Run blew my mind when I compare it to the options I have for the same type of events here in Australia. But it was using these types of events that took the creepy feeling out of the film that the first one had.
I did enjoy the last scenes and the way it got put together. The complexity and involvement of the Blue Skeleton group allowed me to think beyond the movie and wonder if there would be a new instalment.
Bobby Roe hinted during an interview that a new instalment was not off the cards. In fact, I think I even saw a comment that alluded to the next one concentrating their efforts within a different country. I would love to see that. I would bet a fair stack of cash though, that Brandy won't along for the next venture.
All-in-all, my choice to watch these two movies on Halloween was an excellent decision.
Perhaps neither will need you to leave the lights on at night but if you want a backstage pass to the coolest and scariest horror themed things across America then these two won't disappoint.
I give The Houses October Built 2, 3 laser titties out of 5.
The Houses October Built 2
Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.”— Marilyn Manson
© 2017 Mother of Movies and Series Reviews