Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Unseen Films Stay at Home Festival: Film Thirty Five: Hellhouse LLC
The first eleven or twelve minutes of this film is as perfect a set up for a found footage film as you can get. Mixing home video and interviews it puts us into the the events and gives as just enough to get us started. From there the film then largely plays out as we see what happened since the creators of the attraction loved to film everything.
Frankly for 80 minutes of this films this film's 90 minutes HELLLHOUSE LLC is a great horror film. Yes, it isn't perfect it has some of the conceits that drive many people crazy about the found footage genre such as shooting things no one would ever shoot or doing things to move the plot in a contrived matter since this isn't a typical narrative. I'm not going to lie and say that they aren't noticed- they are but as soon as thy happen you are right back into the film...
...the trouble with the film is that as good as the first 80 minutes are the final 10 wreck the the narrative and logical thread. The filmmakers of the documentary are told to go visit the house and they do...but in doing so they abandon the documentary structure because what we see past that point involving the film crew is the wrong sort of gotcha. They could have left it at the hotel desk with the crew leaving the interview and heading out. We don't need the gotcha ending since since it opens up all sorts of questions about everything else.
Honestly the abandonment of a found footage film's conceit in the final minutes is probably the biggest mistake most filmmakers make. I think the assumption is that it's only a movie, but more times than not it leaves you wondering how we are seeing the finished film (HELLHOUSE LLC has that problem). Worse in doing that it wrecks the logic of everything that went before making it all collapse ( it almost happens here)
Final ten minutes aside HELLHOUSE LLC kicks ass I had to turn off the film a couple of times and step away. As such it is highly recommended.