Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Film Review: Hell House LLC (2016)

Hell House LLC (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

" of the best found footage horror films I've ever seen."

A documentary crew led by Diane Graves attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding a tragedy at a haunted house attraction in 2009...

Hell House LLC is a mockumentary film. In 2014, Diane Graves and her crew attempt to discover the truth behind a mysterious tragedy that occurred in Hell House, a haunted house attraction. She does so by interviewing a woman who was at the haunted house during the incident, a journalist, and a member of the Hell House crew. She traces everything back to the beginning. The Hell House crew move out to Abbadon, New York, away from the big city to target a new audience and create a new haunted house at the abandoned Abbadon Hotel. Everything is normal at first, business as usual, but then things start going bump in the night. The bizarre occurrences quickly escalate in frequency and volume. The crew continues their work until opening day where the truth is revealed... Of course, I won't be spoiling the film for you. It fizzles out towards the end, but I enjoyed the ending.

If you've read my other reviews, you know I'm not the biggest fan of found footage horror movies. I strongly disliked Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Blair Witch, for example. However, there are a few standout films in the subgenre, like Afflicted and The Taking of Deborah Logan. Hell House LLC is a standout in the genre. From the beginning, the film sets up an interesting premise. It also builds up a very eerie atmosphere. The setting and visuals are creepy, really getting under your skin. Instead of relying on jump-scares, the film focuses on suspense—and it works. Combine the eerie atmosphere, the creepy visuals, and the suspense and you've got yourself a truly frightening film. Best of all, this one of the few found footage films that doesn't feel like a set of home videos.

Still, Hell House LLC does adopt some of the subgenre's biggest cliches. The cast of characters, for example, are generic. There's one character who comes off as obnoxious, some of them aren't very bright, but none of them are unbearable. They're tolerable, so I give them that. You also have some of the found footage classics, like the famous 'Can you please stop recording?' line or the character who mysteriously talks to a wall in the middle of the night. Fortunately, most of the film stands on its own.

The acting was good, too. The cast felt natural throughout most of the film. There is some shaky cam and some scenes are too dark to see, but this isn't a persistent problem. I've seen far worse in other films. Hell, I've seen worse lighting in traditionally-shot movies. The film was written and directed by Stephen Cognetti. Cognetti uses a few cliches here and there, but most of his writing is fine. Yes, the characters could have been deeper, but that doesn't stop the film from being frightening. The premise is great, the setting is fantastic, the atmosphere is genuinely spooky, and the fear is there. Cognetti is a great horror filmmaker and I hope to see more from him.

Overall, Hell House LLC is a great film. It's one of the best found footage horror films I've ever seen. It's not perfect, but it's very entertaining and frightening. If you enjoy the genre, or if you occasionally dabble in it like myself, this is worth a shot.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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