Thanks in large part to the overwhelming success of Paranormal Activity, the horror genre has been overflowing and oversaturated with found footage films. Cameras and editing equipment are now more accessible than ever before, so it’s only natural that independent filmmakers would explore the no-budget approach and try to strike the spot where Paranormal Activity’s lightning shattered the ground.
Unfortunately, that’s led to an overabundance of poorly executed movies made by filmmakers trying to make a quick buck rather than trying to make a good film. There have been a few diamonds in the rough, though, and thankfully Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House LLC is one of those rare gems.
On October 8th, 2009, a mysterious malfunction kills nearly every member of the Hell House crew during a haunted house tour’s opening night. Five years later, a documentary crew returns to the scene of the tragedy. While they interview the surviving original staff member, the crew is given never-before-seen footage taken by the staff, immersing them into the truth of what really caused the tragedy at Hell House.
Hell House LLC does start off a little slow and unfortunately introduces us to a pretty standard and formulaic group of white folks with a camera crew. However, unlike the standard found footage fare, Hell House LLC takes a page from Lake Mungo and presents footage from multiple sources. The story is told by piecing together the documentary crew’s cameras, customer cameras from the dreadful night, first responder footage, and news crew coverage. It’s found footage within a documentary within a documentary.
While the film admittedly takes a while to get to the scares, once it hits, the flick hits you HARD. There are creepy clowns, effective jump scares, and a really clever storyline intertwined within the traditional conventions of found footage films. Hell House LLC isn’t a groundbreaking found footage movie by any means, but it’s one that showcases the strength of taking conventional recipes and inserting your own flavor to the mix.
Somewhere between Paranormal Activity 3 and The Devil Inside, found footage horror films stopped being fun. This is where Hell House LLC steps in and breathes new life into the sub-genre. Sure, the film is not without its flaws, but Hell House LLC strives to scare while simultaneously entertaining its audience. The scares presented are the kinds that have you laughing with your friends immediately after feeling like jumping out of your skin. If you’re a fan of found footage, but you’re tired of the same old drivel, Hell House LLC is the answer to your shaky camera loving prayers.
Movie Score: 3.5/5