Part pseudo-docudrama, part high-stakes thriller, The Houses October Built takes you on a found-footage style romp through some of America’s most extreme haunted houses. Directed by Bobby Roe, THOB tells the story of five friends on a road trip to the most extreme haunted attractions in an attempt to find “Blue Skeleton,” a mysterious team of haunt actors who operate out of a new secret location each year.
The five road trippers are easily identified with, and you can find their characteristics among any group of friends. They are, for the most part, perfect movie templates with just enough personality to be likable. Of course, this is a horror movie, so that personality also includes the ability to seriously piss off a certain group of scare actors who take things to their own level of extreme. I’m not going to spoil the story for you, but I will tell you that the best part of the film doesn’t come from these main characters, nor from those that stalk them across hundreds of miles.
No, the best part of THOB is the real world haunts where they filmed. The team traveled to eight haunted attractions in Texas, with a final stop at RISE in Louisiana. They interview actual scare actors and are permitted to film inside these haunts. It’s a rare look behind the curtain, with a very subtle suspense designed to keep the audience aware that they are seeing something that shouldn’t be shared, much like how a magician performs their tricks.
Do our heroes find “Blue Skeleton?” Or does Blue Skeleton find them? Check out The Houses October Built, streaming now on Netflix.
Now on to The Houses October Built…2.
I am going to admit that I really do like this film, but it’s not anywhere near as good as the first. In fact, there are many out there that feel this film probably shouldn’t exist. Unnecessary sequels can quickly kill a horror film’s cult status. While, again, I did enjoy this movie, I also feel that it diminishes the heart pounding finale of the first.
Relying on a viral video shot during the climax of the first film, our friendly road tripping haunt enthusiasts have risen to a sort of pseudo-celebrity and are now being paid to visit haunts across America. The catch? Their main attraction is Brandy, who is still coping with trauma she endured during the finale of the first film. After several attempts, they finally get her to agree. But, she has one stipulation; No Extreme Haunts.
Reuniting the main cast was a treat, though the explanation for the first film’s ending was a bit weak. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I went in knowing that the conclusion of THOB would have to be semi-retconned in some way. As with the first film, the best part of THOB2 is the real world haunted attractions and seasonal celebrations where they filmed. Incorporating haunts from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and California, the haunts get slowly more extreme, as everyone tells the team to “Seek Out Hellbent,” an intensely terrifying haunted attraction, where some familiar faces await.
What awaits our heroes at “HELLBENT?” Check out The Houses October Built 2, currently available on Blu-ray and DVD, or stream it on your favorite VOD source.