The Houses October Built (review) is one of the few mockumentaries that effectively blurs the line between the real and the reel. It works so well because nearly everyone who sees the movie will have been through at least one haunted maze – the same cannot be said in regards to the settings of most horror franchises (the crackhouses of Saw, the camps of Friday the 13th, or Hellraiser’s Hades).
We had a chance to pick the peculiar brains of the filmmakers, Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews. The first thing we wanted to clear up was how some of the descriptions online say their film is a documentary. Is it, or not? (That’s a trick question because there are actually two versions with the same title!)
Roe explained, “We wanted to fully explore the world of Halloween haunted houses. Really get ‘behind the mask’ if you will. We interviewed a lot of haunt owners, scare actors, and patrons. The first movie is more documentary style. It still has a twist, but it’s much more of a slow burn. Then we had the opportunity to go out and make the bigger, more mainstream version. Some of the footage from the original we were able to weave into narrative of the second film, and I think that will be some people’s favorite part of this version that is being released.”
We wondered how the first kernel of the idea for this unique film actually popped because let’s face it… lots of people have great ideas, but few actually make them a reality. “That’s the key,” said Andrews. “You just have to go do it! The first step for us was finding a subject that we were passionate about and committing to making that vision happen.”
Roe agreed. “Zack and I both love Halloween and specifically haunted houses. We wondered why there hadn’t been a movie made centered around these haunts. So Zack, Jeff and I decided to flesh out the story.”
Andrews added, “Once we had a story we felt was unique and interesting and got permission to shoot on million dollar sets for free, we were off to the races.”
As for how the process felt, filming in actual haunts, as opposed to doing the same thing on a set, Roe responded, “It gave it a real authenticity. We used real people and shot at real places, a lot of times when they were open for business. Shooting on the go is such a challenge because of blocking, lighting, and sound, but it allowed us to create a realism.”
Andrews went on, “It was a great experience to be able to do both. There are times where you need to recognize that actors can really bring something valuable to the table if they can have a little breathing room and try a fresh approach. But you also have a schedule. You have a lot of people trying to do their best work so you need structure and order to things as well.”
It’s really hard to top all of the iconic, creepy masks that have gone before in the genre. But the ones in The Houses October Built are even scarier than usual! So, how’d they come up with some of the concepts? “It wasn’t about trying to figure out what would be scary,” said Roe. “It was just observing…doing the field research…and seeing what worked. I think the veteran scare actors have perfected a lot of their individual characters, and props and mask concepts are a part of who they are.”
The Houses October Built is out in theaters and on VOD and iTunes TODAY, October 10, 2014. The home video version hits Blu-ray on January 6, 2015.