Considering the amount of money brought in by haunted houses across the country come October, it’s surprising there aren’t a lot of movies surrounding them. Probably the best known would be Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse from 1981. But loud noises and questionable special effects have started to take their toll on the spook house attraction and they’re starting to become more interactive to raise the terror level. Some are so extreme the average person would never even consider it. Such is the case with the underground attraction sought out by a group of friends in director Bobby Roe’s above average found footage entry: The Houses October Built. It’s available now in theaters, on VOD, and iTunes.
Expanding upon his 2011 documentary, we follow five friends – with the cast essentially playing themselves – on the road trip from hell. Bobby, Zack, Mikey, Jeff, and Brandy are visiting haunted houses to find the next big thrill ride. Not satisfied with the everyday attractions, they are hunting down “The Blue Skeleton,” taking them across Texas and into Louisiana. Along the way they interview cast members of the houses along the way, following a trail of clues to the big score. Little do they know that The Blue Skeleton is hot on their trails, trapping them in a game of increasing scares that the group of friends start to question whether they’re real or all part of the show.
The cast of The Houses October Built is a huge improvement over what’s typically offered in low budget found footage movies. Considering anyone with a camera in their hand can make a movie now, this is a particular area that’s been deteriorating at a rapid pace. The real haunted house footage lends an air of authenticity, but there’s way too much build up to the Blue Skeleton finale. Here is when things start to fizzle out with the happenings being to dark to see anything and falling back on typical haunted house tricks such as things appearing out of nowhere and loud noises in the dark. Roe also didn’t seem to know when to end his film. Sometimes vague endings work, this time not.
As for the handheld video work, the quality is on par with something that belongs in a V/H/S segment; the whole idea actually would have worked way better in that context. As it stands, The Houses October Built only left me wanting to watch the original documentary where Roe was more interested with the behind-the-scenes of America’s spook houses. Questioning the dark undertones and rumors that real body parts or whole corpses wind up making their way onto the show floor. The Houses October Built has a built in audience for horror hounds and haunted house aficionados and is definitely worth a look for those who seek it out.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B008HUSFYS]