Hell House, LLC
I'm gonna just come out and say it - I'm a fan of this little found-footage film that could! I wasn't expecting much, not because I don't enjoy found-footage movies, but because I was starting to feel like the horror genre has done pretty much all it can with the sub-genre. But director Stephen Cognetti has proven me wrong with this little gem.
Hell House, LLC is about a group of young entrepreneurs and friends who build haunted house attractions for the Halloween season each year. Normally they set up shop in NYC, but this year the group has decided to go a little further afield and purchase an abandoned inn located in upstateAbaddon, NY. The film begins with dramatic footage of the attraction's opening night, in which 15 crew and visitors died mysteriously. A series of interviews about the event with various journalists, experts, and photographers add an extra dash of realism to the film. We then flash back to footage from the crew's early days getting the inn ready for opening, and the strange events that plagued them leading up to the big night.
Hell House, LLC freaked me right the fuck out. It's one of the more unsettling films I've seen lately, and much of it has to do with expert use of timing on the director's part. Long, unwavering takes and subtle background changes are wonderfully used to completely unnerve viewers. It's an incredibly effect tactic and, in contrast to horror films featuring quick cuts and jump scares, this tempo allows the film to really get under your skin. Add to this formula a group of unknown but solid actors, an intriguing storyline, and you've got this winner of a film.
My only (small) disappointment with the film is the end when, IMHO, it overexplains a few things and tries to hard for a "gotcha" finale. That being said, I come from the school of "the less I understand about the monster/event/boogieman, the more terrified I am," while others undoubtedly like to have clear answers at the end of the film they're watching, so I can understand the inclusion of the film's final 10 minutes or so. Despite that, Hell House is a fun and frightening film, and though I've now seen it more than once, each viewing still manages to make my skin crawl. This is a film that's well worth checking out!