Released Nov. 1, 2016
Unrated (equivalent to Rated R for violence and language) – 1 hr 33 min
Directed by Stephen Cognetti
Starring Ryan Jennifer, Danny Bellini, Gore Abrams, Jared Hacker
A small company sets up a haunted house attraction in a new location every Halloween season. This year, they have selected a dilapidated hotel in sleepy Abaddon, NY – a place with a history of suicides and disappearances that might just have bigger plans for them than they do for it.
Hell House LLC is a found-footage mockumentary that splices fake interviews and archival footage into the usual shaky-cam formula, not unlike The Tunnel or The Bay. It’s not particularly interested in anything but set-ups for spooky happenings, which 5 people living for a month inside a haunted attraction that is actually haunted provides it many opportunities. It establishes right out of the gate that things will end in tragedy on opening night, so a suspenseful story is also not a priority.
Found footage is naturally a constrictive format – the audience is bound to the cameraperson or a stationary view for narrative, resulting in less story and more reactions to things. Hell House wisely attempts to help matters along with its mock interviews, providing some effective asides for plot and context, but it still never works its way out of shallow waters. Very often, scenes boil down to ‘What was that noise?”, “What was that thing?”, or “Wasn’t that somewhere else before?” without much else to move things along. The characters don’t really help the situation much either. There’s the guy, the other guy, the girlfriend, the hornball with the mustache, and yet another guy. In true found footage tradition, they yell at each other more as the movie progresses.
It might sound like I hate found footage flicks, but I don’t. [Rec], As Above So Below, Trollhunter, The Conspiracy, Creep, and the first two V/H/S films, among numerous others, are all good movies, but they all aspired to do something different with the narrow presentation style. Hell House is content with being just another entry in a packed subgenre that is crowded with cheap, unimaginative efforts, but despite that, it is well made. There’s far worse ways to spend 90 minutes and, given the subject matter, would be an adequate addition to your Halloween horror movie marathon. Hell House gets a:
Hell House LLC II – The Abaddon Hotel premieres exclusively on Shudder September 20th.