Hell House LLC
hell house llc | stephen cognetti | gore abrams | alice bahlke | danny bellini | haunted house | haunted | found footage | found-footage | mystery | thriller | united states | jared hacker | adam schneider | ryan jennifer jones | lauren a. kennedy | theodore bouloukos
Film: Hell House LLC
Director: Stephen Cognetti
Writer: Stephen Cognetti
Starring: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke and Danny Bellini
This was a film that when I first got into podcasts, I was hearing a lot about it. I added it to my list of films to see, but hadn’t gotten around to it until now. I did know coming in that it was found footage, but that was about it. To get into this, the synopsis is five years after an unexplained malfunction caused the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.
We start this with documentary film crew as they’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Hell House LLC. Leading them is Diane Graves (Alice Bahlke). To start it off, we are given a YouTube video of someone in line for the Halloween haunted house. We follow them as they go through, but they never finish. They get to the basement and then all hell breaks lose. We get some background information and then Sara Havel (Ryan Jennifer Jones) shows up with tapes from that night. She’s asked why she didn’t turn them over to the police, but she doesn’t have an answer.
Her boyfriend is Alex Taylor (Danny Bellini). He’s the owner of Hell House LLC and every year they put on events like this. They’re going to Abaddon, New York as there is an old hotel they can take over. There actually seems to be a history here, but Alex claims he has no idea about that. With Alex and Sara are Andrew ‘Mac’ McNamera (Adam Schneider), Paul O’Keefe (Gore Abrams) and Tony Prescott (Jared Hacker). We see early on there are some issues in this group.
As they get the place ready, some weird things start to happen. Paul is tasked with filming their progress and he starts to see a figure that is wearing the clown mask from the basement. When the actors show up, Melissa (Lauren A. Kennedy) lets on this hotel actually has a past. Paul isn’t the only one affected by this as it all culminates in a nightmare on their opening night. It’s there that we see from multiple angles what really happened.
Now I wanted to go a little vague here with this recap as this movie doesn’t have the deepest story, but there are really some things to experience here. I will admit though, I really liked this one. It also does certain things that make me feel uneasy so I have to give credit there for sure.
The elephant to address first is that this is found footage. This one works for me as there’s a reason for a camera to be filming all the time. Alex uses it for promotional stuff as well as for the next year to not duplicate things and to keep it fresh. There are moments where it gets a bit shaky, which I’m not always a fan of. They do a great job at having these in the background, so it does make me feel uneasy though looking all over the frame. I give a lot of credit if you can do that.
This shouldn’t come as a spoiler, but this is a haunted house film. I like the way that it is presented though, you’re not completely sure if it’s really haunted or is someone really just messing with them. There’s some great back-story here though that’s actually subtle. The name of the town is Abaddon, which is the demon that is supposed to guard the gates of hell. It’s fitting that Hell House LLC would come here then. On top of that, there’s the story that a cult was operating in this hotel, which also works for me.
From here I want to shift to the pacing. To be honest, I thought they did an interesting job here. It starts off hooking us with the original information that got released. They then go about giving us some experts before actually showing us the footage that Sara brings them. We then get to see everything from the beginning. I like that Alex has his company on the line here, so he is steadfast nothing is happening. From there though, things that are happening are subtle. Using a haunted house is a brilliant setting, because it is easy to think that they’re messing with each other and things to go unnoticed. I also liked the ending as well.
Something that I can be a bit of an apologist about is acting in movies like this. I don’t care if they’re not the best, because it does give more an amateur feel to the found footage angle. Abrams I thought was good. He carries the camera for most of the film and I thought he was pretty funny at times. I like Bahlke’s portrayal in that she is inquisitive and wants to get to the bottom of this. She is a bit over the top though, which makes sense in the end. Jones has an interesting performance and as well as Schneider. The rest of the cast works for what is needed with a shout-out to Kennedy for what she’s wearing in the basement of the haunt.
To the effects, I’m glad they didn’t go CGI here. Being this is found footage; I think it’s smart they went with a more natural practical effect angle. The thing is there’s not really a lot in the way of effects either. They just have people standing quite still and it can definitely be quite creepy if I’m honest. There’s also a scene in Paul’s room that terrified me. The found footage aspect of the film works with bringing realism to all of this.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I like that there’s really only music in the documentary parts of the film. That makes sense as when you see them on TV; they will have dramatic music with it. There’s just ambient noise which makes it creepy. The use of sound from other rooms really works here as well, especially the piano.
Now with that said this film I actually really liked. It actually made me feel quite uneasy if I’m going to be perfectly honest. I like the use of a haunted house set up for Halloween as the setting, because of how it staves off if there’s really a haunting or not. I like the subtle back-story here and how things play out with that. It is paced in a way where I never got bored and just wanted to know what would happen next. The acting was believable for a found footage film. They didn’t do a lot in the way of effects, but I think that works in making it seem more real. That also works with the soundtrack of the film by using mostly ambient noise. I’m probably coming in higher than most here, but I really liked this and thought it was good. I would highly recommend this if you are into found footage films for sure. That is something I know is an issue for some people, but I would say to give this chance.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10