Amazon Prime is a great resource for shopping and a few shows and movies here and there. But in my personal experience, I have had just the worst luck with horror movies. I mean the ones you rent or buy are fine, but the Horror Prime selection has always been weak with a difficult rating system to follow. Do their star ratings go off of your previous habits, off of other people with similar taste, and why can’t I rate an item after watching it anymore? So when trying to find a new horror film after exhausting curated lists online of what movies to watch on what streaming site, I tend to go for a film that is rated 3.5 stars or more on Prime for my horror addition.
It proved a worthy system this weekend with a 2/3 success rate. I binged on Dead Body (winner), Red Christmas (loser), which then suggested All Through the House (a major loser as I stopped after about 10 minutes, that tit stab in the shower was where I ended), and then went searching again and found the lovely Hell House LLC. Which is what we will talk about today. It is, by all means, an Indie horror film that was released in 2015 but also screened in 2016 by some outlets.
The synopsis range is a bit confusing on the basic outlets of IMDb, Prime, and Rotten Tomatoes, but it doesn’t take long for other outlets and reviews to clear up the basic confusion during the opening scenes. It is a cross breed of found footage and documentary, and although confounding in the beginning, a quick fix to just leave your distractions at the door. A documentary team decides to dig into the mystery of the “unexplained malfunction” at Hell House LLC, a haunted house attraction, where 15 tour-goers and staff die during the opening night in 2009. At the beginning of the movie, where I admit to being distracted, Sarah, a missing staff member agrees to come out of hiding and interview about what happened before and during opening night at Hell House LLC, and even has never-before-seen footage of the staff and crews journey of the new haunted house attraction.
So it jumps to and from documentary style and found footage throughout the film, which made the initial jumps very confusing if you were only half paying attention. (Which again I was guilty of, as my intro suggests because you never know if you’ll find something decent on Prime). Eventually, because of the collided forms, you get this pleasant horror film that takes the best of both worlds from Documentaries and Found Footage Films. You get the tension that builds in found footage and you get the explanation and one on one time that is interesting during a documentary without all the boring parts.
Hell House LLC builds tension beautifully too, you can’t take your eyes away from the screen in fear of what will happen next and what you could miss. The found footage screen tension is by far what the film and writers do best, as the characters are written flatly and you can hardly keep up with their names or their individualism. Which to be fair, horror movies have never been known for their character depths.
But the real mystery of what happened is slowly revealed through the found footage tactic. Even with the ever popular “Why not just leave if weird spooky shit keeps happening,” is slightly addressed on screen, you have to travel in to comment boards to really find out why they stick around, which is much less supernatural then I expected and that there is a letdown. You don’t really ever find out what exactly happened that night, it has supernatural aspects to it, and there is supposedly a real urban legend associated with the house, all of which is never really explored in the final cut of the film that is available on Prime. With more digging, there is a director’s cut somewhere online or on DVD, but I can’t be sure of what is different with that.
All we see are weird bi-pedals standing with clokes moving towards our staff members. There is no true explanation for why any of it is happening, only small bites of what everything is. And I think that is a done a purpose from what I can read online from the writer/director, but in this situation, I think it is done in poor taste. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know about the urban legend of the old hotel. I wanted to know why the clown was eerily standing at the top of the basement, and then why it was in the basement with no body inside of it. What did the crew do to this possible cult? What are they? Demon worshipers? Why did the owner hang himself? Was it because of the money troubles and what terrible things were happening or was it more sinister and supernatural hands playing at fates cords? What was with the weird girl in the bedroom? I want to know! If these things were answered, I would have been able to really stand up and applaud the movie, but without any sort of resolution, I just think that the writers wrote themselves into a corner without any planning far enough in advance. Which is a huge disappointment as I was fully ready to make this film a yearly Halloween favorite? One of the likes that SYFY or AMC could air during possibly their early hours of their Halloween related TV-fests.
I still highly suggest giving the film a chance. And come next October, if I remember about the film, I would definitely watch it again. Although Hell House LLC doesn’t tie up all its loose ends, it does a successful job of making you hold your breath and entertain you for a heavenly slice of 90 minutes. If you’re looking for answers from the film, you can find them peppered throughout the review in hyperlinks or go do your own searching. (I also have two screenshots below about why they decided to stay, as it is from a forum and I can not link to the specific comment.) But in all, it won’t be a waste of time and I think brings a fresh perspective to horror found footage sub-genre.
SLEEPER HIT RATING: 4 out of 5 attentive eyes.
SPOILERS IN IMAGE FORUM FORM.