31 Nights of Halloween Horror: Part 9 in a 31 part series. Join me for 31 nights of horror reviews in the month of October. Every night we’ll take a look at a different horror film, some old and some new. Tonight we’re talking about:
The Houses October Built
Dir. Bobby Roe
2014 – USA
First let me tell you about the premise of the film. Five friends go on a road trip across Texas searching for the most extreme haunted house attraction there is, the legendary Blue Skeleton as it is known. It has no home base, it pops up in a different location each year and only those in the know are able to find it.
Great concept for a movie. I have been saying for years and years someone should do a horror movie with a Halloween attraction used as a back drop. They are just getting bigger and bigger in the US, with more and more of them popping up, and even more and more people attending, it is certainly a big business. I am sure there are countless stories from all sorts of angles to be told there.
And now let me tell you why this movie failed. First off it is of the dreaded found footage variety. I know this is a cheap and easier route and when done well can be quite effective, but when not done well it can kill a film. In Houses, it kills the film and then repeatedly stomps on it after it has died. OK so the group of life long friends want to document their road trip of haunted houses, believable, understandable. However they set up their RV they will be taking with multiple cameras so they can get shots from different angles. This tells me two things, one, this is already becoming non-believable because no one would do this in the real world and two, something is going to happen in the RV while no one is filming and they are going to capture it on tape. Guess what happens? Another problem is the cast themselves. None of them really stand out or are memorable, there is the guy with beard who kind of looks like a heavier Ryan Dunn and there is ‘the girl’. The other three I couldn’t even pick out in a police line-up if they robbed me face-to-face with no masks. That is how stand out this cast is. No matter how funny you think you and your friends are, that you should really capture your antics on tape, you are not. Nobody else thinks you are funny and entertaining to watch.
It doesn’t end there, now I have never tried filming while going through a haunted house, but I am going to assume that they don’t really let you or like that you would do it. Even if you insisted on sneaking a camera in, these places are always so dark you could never see what you are filming anyway, which is the case with most of the footage that is seen while they go through the haunted houses. Interestingly enough they do a few interviews with people working the attractions, and those are way more interesting then when the actual characters themselves are in the movie. This movie probably would have worked better as a mockumentary then an actual found footage film.
Along the way they meet up with some strange haunted attraction actors who either take things too far or lead them to believe that perhaps the Blue Skeleton does exist out there somewhere. These scenarios are actually effective creepy moments in the film. This is another successful concept of the movie, the urban legend of the super scary haunted house. We have all heard stories of these places before. I remember hearing one that was 13 floors and if you could survive each floor you got a dollar back from your entry fee. Everyone swore this place existed and knew someone who went, but yet no one knew where it was. Same with the Blue Skeleton, however for the characters it is all too real. Like I said it’s another great concept that is executed horribly in the movie, simply because they are forced to follow the found footage route and it comes to times where it just doesn’t make sense and we have multiple cameras.
So The Houses that October Built. Absolutely love the title, I love the concept, I hate the movie, hate the poster. I know this is only a year old, but someone should already remake this and not as a found footage film. There is so much potential with this material.