Hell House LLC

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Hell House LLC
"The camerawork is handled better than in many such works, and the layered plot adds a modicum of mystery, but the characters are woefully underdeveloped and the acting flat and toneless."

As Halloween approaches, the pile of scary movies waiting to be covered by our team here at Eye For Film steadily grows, and cinemas around the world prepare for special events and horror marathons designed to make film fans shiver. In the US, it's haunted house season. For the uninitiated, this means that people travel to old houses, often in isolated spots outside major cities, where they can wander round a pre-set route in the dark as lights flash, spooky sounds are heard and monsters - sometimes fabricated, sometimes played by actors - jump out at them. Like a ghost train for people who can't afford a ticket, it's a staple of many people's seasonal celebrations, its essential silliness only making it more appealing.

The haunted house business is highly competitive, with crews working hard to outdo each other and built up reputations that will guarantee return on their investment. This film is centred on one such crew, who think they have hit the jackpot when they discover an abandoned building which looks so creepy to begin with that it hardly seems to need any work. Not deterred by the name Abaddon Hotel, which it's not clear the understand, they decide to start the process of setting up their gear and closing off parts of the bulding to restrict visitors' movements. Yet almost from the outset, strange things start happening. It emerges that the building was the setting for a real suicide. Realistically, this probably applies to a significant percentage of hotels, but because of the way scenes here are staged, with a lot of fuzzy recording and a shadowy figure appearing to move at the edge of our vision, it's clear that these young people are headed for a sticky end.

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It's clear, in fact, because that end has already come - we see the footage courtesy of a documentary crew whose own footage adds another layer to the film. They are, they tell us, seeking to solve the mystery of what really happened in Hell House, also showing us news clips of young people bloodied and shrieking. They interview a young woman who seems to be the only survivor. Then, of course, they decide to visit the house for themselves.

Within the horror fan community there has been quite a bit of excitement about this film which seems to hinge on the fact that it's not as awful as most found footage. That may very well be true, but it's a poor excuse for lauding a film. Yes, the camerawork is handled better than in many such works, and the layered plot adds a modicum of mystery, but the characters are woefully underdeveloped and the acting flat and toneless. Attempts to build up atmosphere during the first half come to nothing once the panicking and running round the corridors begins. The plot twists are old hat and there just isn't enough substance here for a 90 minute film.

What the film does have is horror clich├ęs by the bucketload, and an honourable excuse for them. If you're scared of clowns, ghosts, small dark spaces, crazed killers or things that jump out of the shadows, you'll find something here to please you. Stephen Cognetti and his team have made the most of their opportunity to go all out, and whilst it's not quite The Cabin In The Woods, it seems to work for many genre fans. Watch it in the dark, preferably after a few beers, and it might make you feel nervous about going to the bathroom on your own.



Hell House LLC is available on DVD from the film's official site.

Reviewed on: 11 Oct 2017
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Hell House LLC packshot
Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary film crew visits the scene of the tragedy to investigate what really happened that night.

Director: Stephen Cognetti

Writer: Stephen Cognetti

Starring: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos

Year: 2015

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US

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