Halloween is a time in which fright and the macabre run wild. People love a good scare and haunted houses provide scare-seekers with the most genuine and heart-pounding form of entertainment. Actors (people dressed up as monsters) hide out in dark corners and pop out, causing thrill-seekers to skip a heart beat here and there. The latest found footage horror/drama The Houses October Built is an intriguing entry in the same genre of The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity saga. It is a hybrid of that which is real and of that which is spooky fiction. It is being released close to Halloween, so horror and haunted house enthusiasts might want to check out this eerie film.
The Houses October Built takes place in Texas and follows five young friends armed with an RV and a handheld video camera. Together, they set out to visit a bunch of The Lone Star State’s most terrifying haunted houses (“the houses October built”). These haunted houses attract large audiences every year, making money and scaring them in the process. The five thrill-seekers consist of four men and a scrappy woman who are destined to experience the very scariest of these haunted houses. During their “documented” trip, strange things begin to happen and the line between what is real and what is an illusion is blurred significantly.
The “found footage” nature of The Houses October Built benefits the film greatly. In fact, any film which poses audiences with the question of “Is this real or is this fake?” is a brilliant form of storytelling, dare I say “art”. The five cast members exhibit reactions of pure shock in some sequences. There is a girl in the film with a porcelain doll mask and her few seconds aboard the RV is one of the creepiest and most original bits of horror captured on film in recent years. With scenes like that scattered throughout and decent performances from the five actors, The Houses October Built is a truly scary and at times, fun film.
It is unfortunate that horror films these days are somewhat in the decline. The Paranormal Activity film series did breathe life into the genre somewhat but sadly, that ghost train eventually came to a halt. The found footage genre is a genius way to drudge up the scares and The Houses October Built is evidence that that genre can thrive even if it isn’t about carefully placed surveillance cameras and loud unexpected booms. Director Bobby Roe knows this and his “fearless” cast and crew know it too. The highly talented cast consists of Roe, Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson and these five young adventurers have contributed in making a bit of horror excellence. Almost like a “real-life” Scooby Doo mystery team, this group of haunted house explorers have made a film that is as unique as it is frightening. Hopefully, audiences will go see this movie because it really is a lot of fun whether it’s real or not.