The found footage sub-genre of the horror realm can be hit or miss. You not only have to be willing to be swept up into the tale, and the reality it presents, it also has to be engaging enough to keep the viewer involved. Therefore it has to have an interesting story, and at the very least characters you want to learn more about if not necessarily like.
Hell House LLC had popped up in my streaming feeds a couple of times, but neither the poster, nor the blurb for it really caught my attention. Yet another faux documentary about missing people and a horrific tragedy, it just didn’t seem to be my thing.
When it also showed up on a couple of lists of recommended films I finally decided to give it a go, and I wasn’t disappointed. It ended up being fun, and had some solid scares, well-orchestrated, and plays nicely with the idea of the haunted house.
The story follows a documentary crew as they go through the tapes of a group of twenty-somethings that were made surrounding an unexplained incident in a former hotel made over into a haunted house attraction. They also have a chance to interview one of the group’s sole survivors, Sara (Ryan Jennifer Jones).
Sara, and her friends documented everything as they settle into an old closed down hotel (which apparently has a bit of a mysterious past and history in the town) and begin converting it, wiring it up, staging scares, but as they do, strange things begin to take place. There are figures captured on tape, things moving, strange sounds.
And sure, the cameraman shares some of this with his friends, but most of them think he’s just having a go. It’s also revealed that for some reason, they can’t leave, whether it’s a financial thing or not, we’re not sure, we only know that they can’t.
As opening day draws closer, they learn more about the hotel, have increasingly strange encounters, until tragedy strikes opening night.
There are rumors that the hotel’s owner was attempting to open a portal, perhaps even to hell, and the things we begin to see on the tape may back that up. But there are so many gags and staged scares, everyone seems to be in a heightened state already, and isn’t sure what to believe.
And none of them will be ready for opening night when things go absolutely pear-shaped, and we get suggestive glimpses of what happened.
I like the idea that we are given just enough ‘historical’ scraps to create a backstory, but it’s the glimpses of things that are really fun. Does this mean I’ll watch the sequels? Probably, it’s the same writer/director, and he obviously can make things work on a low budget.
That being said, I can only take so much shakey-cam. So I’m not going to rush through them. But if you’re looking for something a little different, check this one out!