Houses October Built, The (2014)
Directed by Bobby Roe
Let me be clear. I am sick to death of found footage movies. The subgenre has been weakened, overdone, and generally speaking, I can’t imagine anyone looking for more footage as all the interesting stuff has already been found. Or so I thought… Just when it seemed I was out, something came along and pulled me back in: the truly frightening The Houses October Built.
In it our characters, who play themselves, are about as fed up with homogenized haunted attractions as I am with first-person movies. Rather then spend their Halloween season headed to the usual haunts, they decide to take a trip to the not as well known towns who host their own spook houses each year. Our group, made up of a pair of brothers along with several life-long friends, are in search of the most extreme haunts imaginable. One in particular hits their radar that’s supposed to be the apex of scares. The only problem? No one knows where it is or whom to ask for directions. This isn’t something that’s advertised. It’s only known through word of mouth.
Once on the road, our protagonists hit up several haunted attractions, each one spookier than the next, and while there they start their pursuit of the holy grail of haunts by asking around each town. Finally they get a lead and lo and behold end up there. The only hitch? They might never leave.
Filmed in actual haunted attractions, each with their own scare-actors, The Houses October Built masterfully captures the look and feel of both the industry and the season with eerie sights and jump-scares aplenty. The film’s characters are ridiculously natural, and their relationships and reactions are both fun and frightening. You really feel as if you’re there with the gang having a blast. This illusion is pulled off flawlessly, and I don’t think any other style of filmmaking could have done such a service to this particular movie. I will say this though… if you’re not a fan of shaky-cam, you may want to steer clear as there’s a lot of it, but if you don’t mind or can just deal, there’s quite an experience to be had here.
As with every other found footage film, you’re going to have to suspend logic every now and again. That’s always a painful task because you want things to make perfect sense, but here you’ve just gotta accept that the camera is rolling and take the ride. Believe me, it’s worth it!
By the time we get to the finale, we’ve been thoroughly assaulted with nightmarish imagery that leads to a third act that’s home to some of the most intense situations we’ve seen in some time. It’s frighteningly real and leads you to wonder exactly how all of this happened and who was behind what. There’s much discussion to be had by the time that the credits roll, and that’s the hallmark of a great film.
Tis the season, kids, and this is a great Halloween-time tale of absolute terror. Revel in it!