When a found-footage horror has the feel of a true crime documentary, I take that as a good sign. If it looks like something that could’ve actually happened; that someone would have felt compelled to cover in-depth, you tend to be onto a winner more often than now. Hell House LLC is the epitome of this, and as such absolutely knocks it out of the park.
Following on from a supposed malfunction that resulted in the deaths of tour-goers and staff alike on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary team revisit the site in an attempt to find out what really went on that night.
There are a lot of things that I loved about this film
One of my favourite aspects is that what actually happened remains a total mystery right until the end. However, the added bonus of Hell House LLC is that it doesn’t once become tiresome whilst concealing this. What I’ve found in the past with some found-footage films focusing on ghosts or hauntings or anything along those lines is they start to wear thin very quickly because they run out of ways to tease what’s to come. Many need to be far more creative with how they provide little threads of information whilst also concealing the big reveal that will inevitably come at the end. This is a film that is constantly sowing seeds about what really happened that night. The steady stream of new theories keeps you invested, and makes the tying up of all those loose ends at the end of the film all the more satisfying.
Of course, this works largely because the film does such a great job of drawing you in at the start. Before Hell House LLC really gets underway, you are treated to a tour-goer video from that fateful night. In it, you get to see what happens, but not what really happens. You get a sense of the confusion and then the terror that rattled through the tour. The film follows this up by revealing so much secrecy surrounded the night in its immediate aftermath. Ultimately, this is nothing terrifically new in the grand scheme of things. However, it manages to be super effective because of how the film is structured.
It’s the little things…
I said earlier that what makes this film so great is that it feels like a true crime documentary. A collection of interviews with people close to the case set the scene and drive the narrative excellently. Full credit must be given to the actors here – their performances are what make this aspect so convincing. They added a layer of realism that found-footage films thrive on, and really enhanced the overall experience as a viewer not fully aware of what was going on.
There is a lot of creepiness throughout this film. The presence of shadowy figures or unexplained events, whilst fairly commonplace in films like this, are not unwelcome. They contribute as hints of what’s to come, and help to keep you on your toes. However, for me, the concept was one of the most unsettling aspects of the film. You really are at the mercy of the owners from the second you step inside tours like this. It’s not something I’ve personally seen explored before, but clearly haunted house tours could be a playground for horror writers. Thankfully, the creators of this film saw that potential and went to town on it.
There is nothing that I don’t like here
As far as found-footage films go, Hell House LLC is one of the best ones I’ve seen. It never once ran out of ideas, so was a very easy watch in terms of the amount of effort it required from me. This is a film that plays with a simple concept, but executes everything very well, as opposed to shooting for the stars and missing horribly. It sticks to what it knows, and makes sure that all of its elements are singing from the same song sheet. On the surface, it may not seem a lot, but trust me when I say this nails what it sets out to do.