Like few found footage movies before it (Ghostwatch being the one that most comes to mind), Hell House LLC blew me away, and seeing it a second time, little of the impact was lost.
Done by seeming to be a documentary about a tragedy that occurred in a haunted house attraction, with interviews of journalists and authors, and mixing that up with different forms of media such as video captured from the event and put on YouTube, this film goes beyond a simple ‘one guy holds camera and films creepy stuff’ idea. It feels real, and even the multitude of movie (provided by videotapes of the haunted house crew in the months leading up to the tragedy) have an uneasy vibe about them.
One of the reasons much of this movie really works out well (even for rewatches) is the fact that many of the scares are quite subtle. Sure, the clown scenes were openly terrifying, but there are others that you could easily miss watching through this the first few times (such as unexplained figures, creepy shadows, that type of thing). And even the more obvious scares, such as the frantic, chaotic ending in the basement and the clown scenes have an organic feel to them. Nothing here really seems forced.
The cast throughout did a fine job, and really, no one stands out with a bad performance. All of the main performances made a good impact, and while no one blew me away, they all did competently enough as to not really cause any hindrance on the story.
I’ve spoken quite a bit about my problems regarding many modern found footage horror films, but that’s not to say that I can’t enjoy a good found footage movie when I run into one, this movie being a good case. It has enough flexibility and story-telling techniques going on that it strikes me, even after having seen it twice, as something special. A great film, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to any fellow fans of horror.
This was covered on Fight Evil’s seventh podcast by Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and myself. Give it a listen below.