Writer: Stephen Cognetti
I have only watched the original Hell House LLC film, yet this “origin” film didn’t miss a beat for me. The film moves away from the Abaddon Hotel, which is the focus of the first film and two sequels. It somehow manages to take ‘found footage’ and ‘clown horror,’ both easily worn out or joke horror sub-genres, and make them both terrifying. Yes, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor makes clowns scary again.
Once again adopting a faux-documentary vibe, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor mixes interviews with subjects talking about the “footage you’re about to watch,” as well as letting you see all the terror of a found footage film unfold over several nights. Much like a lot of things in this movie, it’s something that could so easily fall into being cringy, but director and writer Stephen Cognetti makes it work.
Margot Bentley (Bridget Rose Perrotta) is obsessed with hunting down haunted houses and attempting to create documentaries about these apparently haunted locations. Along for the ride are girlfriend Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown) and brother Chase (James Liddell). They’re spending five nights in the haunted Carmichael Manor, which is home to an unsolved family murder that happened there in the late 80s. Of course, this home and the family have a deep, dark secret and connection to the Abaddon Hotel and the rest of the Hell House LLC world and lore.
Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor falls into a few pit holes of the genre, but there’s a handful of unique and fresh scares for the handy cam horror. One instance where Rebecca is on a chat with her boss, and the video file she is trying to show her instead switches to one of someone creeping through the home to the room she is sitting in is especially spine-tingling.
It’s in the film’s final act where I couldn’t help but mutter, “f**k these clowns, man” at my TV screen, and I’ve decided to rescind any circus trips I may have been open to. The clowns in Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor are very creepy, and I hate and love everything about them.
It’s in the ‘documentary’ scenes as interviews with friends and experts in the Abaddon Hotel and the Carmichael Manor talk about Margot, Rebecca and Chase in past tense throughout the film that you know they’re all going to die, not that it ruins the suspense and build to their last terrifying night in the manor. In these scenes, the lore of the hotel and manor are expanded upon more as Cogentti seems to open up his world to a larger cast of characters and ideas. Hopefully, he’ll build upon these in another family, but I would like to see him step outside the found-footage constraints.