Being in the Halloween spirit, I really wanted to give this film a try as much as I despise found footage films. If it wasn’t Halloween themed I would have saved it for another time. I went in knowing very little about it, except viewing the preview moments before and thinking the title of the film was badass. The Houses October Built has decent potential with its refreshing and unique plot.
The film opens with a quote:
I’m not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted houses. I’m afraid of what real human beings do to other real human beings. –Walter Jon Williams
I couldn’t agree more. True life is scarier than any fictionalized tale. This is probably the reason I prefer horror movies about serial killers rather than ghosts. I don’t discriminate because I love ALL things horror but that is just a preference.
Anyway, the film opens with what looks like real footage and interviews of haunted houses and the kinds of people who work there. Thousands of Halloween attractions open around the Unites States each year; and each year the need to outdo the year before exponentially increases. Five friends set out on a road trip to uncover the most extreme haunts and bring cameras along to document their experience.
I did a quick IMDb search during the beginning of the film, trying to familiarize myself with the director and cast. The director, Bobby Roe, also stars in the film. The character’s names in the film are actually the actors’ names in real life. I could quickly tell that this film was greatly influenced by the original found-footage horror film, The Blair Witch Project. I remember seeing Blair Witch in theaters when I was 13 or 14 years old and totally believed that the footage and story was real since no one had ever done a film like this before. Now the horror genre can’t shake this worn-out style. Nevertheless, this found-footage technique does give the film a realistic approach, feeling as if we are right there next to these actors traveling through these haunted houses.
We follow the friends around through a few different haunted houses spread across Texas. We see coffins and heavy metal clown, creepy school girls and zombie strippers, and even partake in some zombie paintball which would be so fun to do. The filming does get a little disorienting going through the haunted houses with the flashing strobe lights and moments of complete darkness. There are a few decent pop-up scares, but the gimmick gets old quick. I kept wondering when the real horror was supposed to begin, which doesn’t start until the last half hour of the film- an hour too late in this 1.5 hour film, in my opinion.
As much as I love horror movies, I HATE haunted houses. They scare the hell out of me, probably because I watch too many horror movies and read too many disturbing books. So this film SHOULD HAVE been scary. Then tension building in this movie COULD HAVE been so intense and extreme. SHOULD HAVE, COULD HAVE. Think of the movie, REC– hands down, the scariest found footage film. REC proves it can be done but The Houses October Built feels like it was just thrown together overnight. In essence, it’s just a bunch of edited footage from haunted houses rather than a developed plot. There is a nice little twist at the end but it still wasn’t worth it. I can go in my backyard and create the same cheap thrills. I just kept waiting for it to be over.
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