Wednesday, October 14, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: The Houses October Built (now on video)

[31 Days of Halloween 2015: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
 is now available on DVD, Blu Ray, On Demand, and Netflix Instant.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

*Note: As with last year’s 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, we’ll be diving deep into the new release section looking for modern horror fare, hoping for the best, but frankly expecting the worst.*

For better but usually worse, the found footage/faux documentary horror genre is here to stay. And while one of the year’s best films, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, makes a strong case for the genre’s survival, films like THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT present an equally compelling argument for its speedy demise. Of course seeing as these films are so cheap and seemingly easy to make, that’s probably not going to happen. But I digress. On with the film at hand.

The premise of HOUSES is that a group of friends are making a documentary on the most extreme haunted attractions in America. An actual documentary on that subject sounds like a good idea, but we only get snippets of anything resembling that. Instead this is mostly the same old found footage formula where we spend an almost agonizing amount of time with the main characters – Zack (Zack Andres), Brandy (Brandy Schaefer), Bobby (Bobby Roe), Mikey (Mikey Roe), and Jeff (Jeff Larson) – as they walk through various haunted attractions and grumble about not finding the truly terrifying one they’ve been seeking. Eventually the group gets a lead on an underground haunt called The Blue Skeleton, but it may turn out to be more than they bargained for.

To be sure, there are some effective scares in the film, but overall it was a tough slog getting through the whole thing. As is often the case in these found footage films, the characters don’t come across as particularly interesting, and at times are even grating. Plus it’s just hard to understand why they’d keep going even as it’s obvious that things are getting a little hairier than they had expected. Eventually HOUSE becomes just another movie where you feel like whatever horrible fate is in store for our protagonists, they kind of deserve it. 2 out of 4 stars.

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