I’ve always thought that there was a setting that very few horror movies have capitalized on: haunted house attractions. The reason why The Houses October Built is a must-watch is because it portrays the scare potential of these attractions so perfectly.
Perhaps what I liked most about The Houses October Built is the originality of its story. I’ve always doubted whether a horror flick made in the 21st century could still come up with a fresh, new plot — hence why most of what we’re getting are remakes.
This directorial debut film by Bobby Roe – who also starred in the movie – proves that notion to be false. THOB explored the horrors that could arise for avid fans of haunted house attractions.
Living in New Zealand, we may not fully grasp this whole culture of “thrill seeking” – mostly because all we actually have is Spookers in Auckland and even that is tame in comparison to the haunted houses exhibited in this film.
But in the United States, millions of horror fanatics travel all over the country during the Halloween period in search of the most messed up, most fear-inducing, most traumatizing horror experience there is.
For the five main characters of this found-footage horror film – Bobby (also the director), Brandy, Zack, Mikey and Jeff – they are just about to find that experience.
Being avid horror fans themselves, they scoured the deep web to find haunted houses that offer extreme, hyper-realistic scares. This takes them on a journey to most of the southern United States – you know, where horror movies of the past depict most of its rural inhabitants to be crazed hillbillies hell-bent on killing visitors.
With that you can probably guess how the horror comes in in this story.
There are several aspects of this movie that I have high praises for, one being the authenticity of its characters. Most low-budget, indie horror films put off viewers with the obvious exaggeration that their actors do to portray their roles – THOB is an anomaly in that paradigm. The neophyte actors playing our main characters do an awfully good job of making sure their acting doesn’t come off as obnoxious while still remaining believable.
Then there was the costumes used. To prove this point I only need you to look at this photo of one of the stars of the haunted attraction, though not formally named in the film has been referred to by fans of this film as “Dollface”.
In the same vein as the main characters, the actors who portrayed these haunted house monsters also had an amazing authenticity in their acting. It’s either the director is phenomenal at explaining what he expects from his actors and how the characters should be portrayed or he stumbled across a talent agency that had the contacts of the best amateur talent in the U.S.
Look, I’m not hiding the fact that I’m a big fan of this film but I’m also not going to say that everything about it was perfect.
This section normally would be labelled, “The Bad” but what I’m going to state are not exactly bad. Rather, they merely were underwhelming especially given the fact that most of the movie was promising. So instead, this section will be labelled “The Okay”.
The aspect of this movie that failed to impress me was the ending, in fact it was seriously disappointing considering that the story was climaxing and I expected a big twist at the end to cap off what would have been a truly special film.
Obviously I can’t describe the ending in more definitive details without spoiling the film, go watch it yourselves – it is seriously worth it. All I’m going to say is that this movie squandered its chance of becoming a serious hit by falling short of a good ending.
However, that still should not stop anyone from watching this film.
When fellow horror fans ask me about this film, I describe it as ‘seriously underrated’. Barely anyone has heard of it, even the more serious horror fanatics. The reviews it garnered on Rotten Tomatoes and Dread Central were also unfair, I rate this film much, much higher than those two media heavyweights.
For a definitive grade, I bestow The Houses October Built with a solid A-. It is a perfect flick to put on for your friends who like the horror genre and have seen the staple flicks like Conjuring, Grudge, the Ring series, etc. and are wanting something new; this film is something new. It is one they most likely have not come across or even heard of yet and would make for a pleasant surprise.