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Movie Review: The Houses October Built
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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The Houses October Built movie review

The Houses October Built
Director: Bobby Roe
Screenwriter: Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Jeff Larson
Cast: Brandy Schaefer, Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson, Chloë Crampton
Image Entertainment
Not Rated | 94 Minutes
Release Date: October 10, 2014

Every October, over 2,500 haunted house attractions open their creaky, cobweb-covered doors for business. Millions of people from across the country visit these homegrown haunts in search of a good scare. But beneath the fake blood and cheap latex masks, there are whispers of truly terrifying attractions – places where the blood is real and the costumed crazies that prowl the halls aren’t volunteers, they’re murderers.

Searching for an authentic, blood-curdling scare for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down the world’s scariest, most extreme underground haunt. Just when their search hits a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the haunt has come to them.

Directed by Bobby Roe and produced by Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity, Insidious), The Houses October Built is an indie found footage flick starring Roe, Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson.

Surprisingly, few films have explored the haunted house attraction phenomena. You’ve got Tobe Hooper’s 1981 sideshow flick, The Funhouse, and a handful of other carnival horror films like 1972’s Vampire Circus, 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre, but a self-referential found footage film that takes audiences through real haunted house attractions? That’s a pretty innovative concept, actually.

The characters drive around the South visiting small towns in search of The Blue Skeleton, a traveling underground haunt known for its shocking and extreme “depictions” of violence. Along the way, they interview haunt owners and volunteers about their experiences working in the industry. Through these interviews we learn that, for many of these attractions, the management doesn’t bother with background checks. The guy chasing you through the dark with a chainsaw could be mentally ill, or a former convict.

Unlike the popular Paranormal Activity series, Roe’s film is less concerned with the supernatural and more focused on real fear – why we like being scared – and how a “good scare” can quickly escalate into something dangerous and even deadly.

The Houses October Built feels like the B-side to The American Scream, Michael Stephenson’s 2012 documentary about Halloween-obsessed families who transform their homes into haunted attractions. Roe’s film is soaked in the spirit of Halloween – a movie that fans of the holiday will no doubt revisit every year for its authenticity of the haunted house experience.

One particular haunter, Porcelain (Chloë Crampton), looks like an antique doll. Carrying a tattered teddy bear as she stalks visitors, Porcelain is like a living, breathing Annabelle (the possessed plaything from The Conjuring) – and like Annabelle, she’s creepy enough to inspire her own spin-off. She may be the most iconic character to come out of the genre since Trick ‘r Treat‘s Sam.

Well-crafted and creepy, The Houses October Built is an entertaining and unsettling low-budget found footage film that’s likely to become required Halloween viewing. RLJ Entertainment and Image, The Houses October Built hits theaters and Video on demand on October 10.

Trailer

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