I’d heard very little about Hell House LLC before watching it and hadn’t even seen the trailer either. But, it had been highly recommended by a few people and had been sitting on my Amazon Prime watch-list for some time anyway, so I decided to give it a shot. It’s a found footage horror, which has been done to death now, so it’s easy to go into another one feeling cynical and apprehensive. However, there is still the occasional hidden gem out there waiting to be found and, for me, Hell House LLC turned out to be one of them.
The plot surrounds a Halloween house tour in an old abandoned hotel in a small American town. On opening night, as dozens of thrill-seekers descend on the house to enjoy the various mannequins and lighting effects that have been setup to try and scare them, there is an incident down in the basement. Panic ensues as everyone tries to locate the exits and there are a number of mysterious deaths, along with numerous injuries. We see a YouTube video that somebody recorded during their tour, but they didn’t quite make it to the basement to capture what went on, so all we see is them making a hasty exit. Five years on and the hotel is now boarded up, while the whole tragedy remains unexplained. Now though, the sole survivor of the crew responsible for putting on the event has approached a documentary crew with a bunch of video tapes that were recorded by the team in the run-up to opening night, so hopefully the truth will finally be revealed.
We begin with the team driving to the hotel for the first time, before going inside to check it all out. They’ve put on Halloween house tours before, but this one is a bit of a challenge due to the derelict nature of the hotel. First they need to get power to the place, in order to setup safety cameras in every room and corridor, strobe lighting etc. Then they start setting up the various rooms, working out themes and hiring a small group of actors to dress up and scare people during the tour. Early on in the movie, these scenes are interspersed with interviews from reporters, photographers and historians who recount some of the troubled history of the hotel and give us a bit more detail as to what happened during and after the events of the tours opening night.
The crew of five are all staying in the hotel as they work towards the big day, all the while documenting their progress and the various challenges they encounter. The place is seriously creepy anyway and the movie takes it’s time in establishing the characters and making sure you’re familiar with everything they’ve installed and the general layout of the hotel before mysterious things start happening, usually at night while everyone is trying to sleep. At first, things are basic enough that it’s easy for them to accuse someone of trying to prank the others, but they soon start to increase in intensity and creepiness. Despite all common sense, preparations still continue for the big night which, as we already know, turns out to be a big mistake.
I really liked Hell House LLC. I’m still not actually sure what happened down in the basement, or afterwards for that matter, but the build up to it really did work well for me and there were some very effective and genuinely unsettling moments. And I do love feeling unsettled by a movie!