The Houses October Built (2014)

Here we are on day 16 of my #31DaysOfHorror. You can follow along with me and share the movies you’ve been watching with me on Instagram with the tag #BarleyDoesHorror. In the meantime, enjoy the review.

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Alright, we’re diving into something that is one of my favorites, when it’s done right : Found Footage. I’ve said it time and time again, I really do love these movies. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are among my absolute favorite horror flicks of all time. Admittedly, when I first heard about this, and saw the poster, I actually thought it was a documentary about extreme haunted houses in America. A phenomenon that I am both interested in and baffled by. I was proven wrong when I watched the trailer, and here’s the plot for you fine folks :

Beneath the fake blood and cheap masks of countless haunted house attractions across the country, there are whispers of truly terrifying alternatives. Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down these underground Haunts. Just when their search seems to reach a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them…

Now, interestingly enough, a look at director Bobby Roe’s IMDB page, there is also a 2011 film of the same title, that is filed as a documentary. I can’t actually confirm anything, but if I had to guess, I would say that some of this movie is footage from that, and the rest is new footage to fill in the narrative. Again, I really have no idea, and if anyone knows, please let me know. The 2014 film is filed as a ‘horror/thriller’ and is obviously a fictional movie given the turns the plot makes.

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So, first off, this movie was really enjoyable. It all felt very real, and very well put together. It’s one of those times where this found-footage style is used right, and in a way that is really enjoyable. The characters are all pretty easy to connect with, and their chemistry feels very real and natural. Again, going with the IMDB pages for both films, it looks like the same people were involved in both, so it’s possible this was a group of friends making a movie together, and allowing for some pretty natural interactions with each other throughout. A round about way of saying… the actors were great.

The story is also really creepy, the footage shot in the haunted houses managed to make me jump more than once and the story that connected everything was really effectively creepy. I will say though, that it was pretty hard to understand the decisions the characters were making near the end. I know that horror movie characters are especially famous for their poor judgment (running up the stairs instead of out the front door… etc) but at a certain point, even if you were looking for the most extreme haunt, it’s nearly impossible to imagine making any of these choices and not just saying “Nope, I’m done.” and getting the fuck out of dodge.

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All in all though, bad (REALLY FUCKING BAD) choices aside, I found this movie incredibly enjoyable. It’s effectively scary, and very very watchable. If you’re not a fan of found-footage just on principle, then you’re obviously not going to like this movie. However, if you’re capable of watching a movie without having an opinion before you even sit down, or are a fan of this kind of movie, then it’s 100% worth checking out. It can be really hit and miss, and I understand that. It’s been found that found footage is the cheapest way to make a movie, so now the market is saturated. This one breaks that monotony in the genre, and I think you’ll find it well worth your time.

Again, anyone who can tell me about/show me the 2011 documentary, please do let me know. I’m curious to know more.

FINAL GRADE : B+

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