Friday, 30 June 2017

Hell House LLC

"Hell House LLC" (2016, Stephen Cognetti, Cognetti Films) is a found footage mock-umentary film set in a Halloween haunt.

The film circulates around a film crew trying to unravel the mystery of a tragedy which struck a haunted house in an abandoned hotel. Although authorities reported a 'malfunction' as the cause of the panic, survivor footage and accounts have made it seem like something more sinister happened. When someone steps forward as a witness who was involved in the tragedy, along with a lot of new, unseen footage, the crew think they might be on the verge of a breakthrough. We follow the story of the group of haunters setting up shop in the small town just outside of New York city and see first hand the events as they unfolded.

I'm not the biggest fan of found footage as a rule. The jumpy camera style gives me motion sickness and often the acting is unnatural and distracting. But, "Hell House LLC" manages to be dark, entertaining and filled with effective jump scares. The camera motions are very typical of a found-footage flick, but the effective screen cutting, styling and overall storytelling keep the viewer engaged and stop it from becoming boring.

The characters are well evolved and a good sense of camaraderie (and animosity) is built up effectively. Some of the jump scares are pretty by-the-book, but these are well paced and nicely shot. There are a few, however, that actually elicited a jump from me and the use of one of the haunt props is extremely well done. It is definitely this that made the film stand out for me and has brought it into my annual Halloween watch list.

The film delivers an effective scare fest and neat plot twist that creates a great Halloween party atmosphere. And while the plot isn't exactly breaking any new ground, it does inject the jump-scare, found footage genre with a fun, atmospheric entry.

[Image: Cognetti Films]
Hani