Hell House LLC
Dir. Stephen Cognetti (2015)
A group of college-aged kids start a haunted house attraction in a house that may be actually haunted. Clowns are unfortunately involved.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
This is an awesome movie, but there is one thing that kinda sticks in my craw. We’ll get to that later, but first let’s dig into one of the more original found footage movies we’ve come across. Hell House, LLC is about a group of young adults who create haunted houses for a living, travelling around the East Coast and renting properties for the season that they can then transform into a local scary tourist attraction. Their leader books a deal with the owners of the Abaddon Hotel, an abandoned inn in upstate New York that was closed down many years prior. The story itself is told through local news footage, footage shot by the workers, and by a newscaster and her cameraman who are looking to dig in further to the disaster that occurred on opening night of the attraction as well as the disappearance of all of the workers who sought to transform the Abaddon. Most of the movie, however, is the aforementioned self-shot footage of the workers. As the youngsters bring in various scary manikins and creepy decorations, things start to go awry and the manikins cease to be manikins. Yes, of course that includes scary-ass clowns, why would you ask?
Nope. Nope Nope Nope.
The thing that always gets me is, the hotel is called the Abaddon. Ok, that’s kinda creepy, but maybe it’s the dude’s last name or something, right? Abaddon means “a place of destruction,” or “an underworld abode of lost souls.” You’re telling me that no one, not one soul, who stayed in the hotel during the time that it was open was well-read and was like “wait a goddamn minute, we shouldn’t be staying here at all!”? Or at least be like, “why the hell would you name your hotel the Hell Hotel?” That’s the part I find even more unbelievable than clowns whose heads move or basement portals to hell (whoops, sorry, spoiler alert). It definitely, for the movie’s purposes, does add a layer of danger to the whole thing, though, so I absolutely get the name in the script.
As tensions begin to build among the crew and things start going haywire, the viewer can feel the tension mount and the tempers get shorter. Crew members go missing for hours at a time, and we begin to doubt the real intentions of the company head. Eventually, more of this backstory is revealed, and the subsequent movies go into even further detail in really interesting ways. To get the complete story, you have to watch the entire trilogy, but what is self-contained by just this one movie is entertaining if you’re only down to watch one of them. There are genuinely scary scenes, and you begin to feel bad for the crew almost immediately because you know in your gut that they’re all headed to their doom. In fact, the movie flat-out tells you that in its opening scene. The only thing left is to find out what happens to them and how they meet their end.
Hey guys, does, like, anyone feel that we're all gonna die here? Just me?
All in all, this movie is rad as hell. The scenes with the clowns are goddamned terrifying, and as things start to go awry (read: batshit crazy) in the finale, you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to see how things pan out. Add in the subplot of the newscaster who is investigating, and her efforts to get inside the now condemned building, and things go from bad to worse as we’re waiting with breath that is bated for the last scene. You really need to check this one out, and while you’re at it, I highly recommend setting aside about five hours of your time and watching the entire trilogy. It’s all absolutely worth it, and there’s a reason this one made my list of the Top 10 Found Footage Films. It’s scary, incredibly well done, and the characters do a wonderful job of being believable kids who are in over their heads. And in over their heads they indeed are. Who this movie is for: Found footage fanatics, People who are terrified of clowns, People looking for instructional videos on how to open portals to hell Bottom Line: This movie is rad as hell. It’s unfortunate that it’s basically only been available on Amazon Prime or Shudder for as far back as I can remember, because the entire trilogy is just so much fun. This is one I would recommend to everyone because there’s something in it that anyone would love who appreciates found footage in the slightest. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it, worth a rewatch if you have. I watch the entire trilogy at least once a year, or as often as I can convince the missus.