22 Oct 2014

Review -'The Houses October Built' is Neither a Trick or a Treat

Beneath the fake blood and cheap masks of countless haunted house attractions across the country, there are whispers of truly terrifying alternatives. Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down these underground Haunts. Just when their search seems to reach a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them...
The found footage sub genre has been one that has been held of strong dislike by many genre fans, and over the past couple of years they haven't seemed to be getting any better with the exception of a few. 2014 has provided its fair share improvements with the likes of The Den, and in a sense Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Everyone who knew about The House October Built anticipated its release and looked forward to something that could possibly have been the new halloween tradition to boot, but instead we're downgraded to a prime example for why the found-footage sub-genre is on its last legs. A distinct lack of unoriginality.

Given such a striking premise, The Houses October Built had true potential to pulling off a feisty holiday treat, one that could have been stacked neatly next to Trick 'r Treat and Halloween on the que for a traditional festive frenzy. Instead however we are subjected to a sub-standard, below par shaky cam horror that borrows beneath the sub-genre's finest successes, churning recycled ideas into a well-developed narrative that in result becomes tainted and spoiled. The initial approach says otherwise, boasting a strong set-up that had potential to blossom into something terrific. That being squandered, The Houses October Built slowly descends into savagery as the once fascinating premise is smothered in an indulgence of uninspired tropes and a dull narrative strand.
Squandering almost any potential to build upon its frightening set-up, it relays too heavily on cheap jump scares that occur only when we are made to endure the haunted houses with the characters. Like a haunted house experience itself, we are subjected to a frequent amount of mindless jump scares that fail to have a hold, resulting in a completely mindless act of jump, scream and run. In saying this, there were a few chilling moments towards the final act that had me hooked, but once the final act kicked in, it all proved to be too sloppy (and too dark) to care.
The act structure is blatant and frankly, quite ugly. The first act sets out to deliver the most basic of jump scares and character development, whilst the second act attempts to build upon the (so far) one dimensional story, ultimately failing due to its dull pace and idiotic character decisions. The final act however proves most successful, despite being shrouded in sub-genre cliches and a lack of tonal consistency. Luckily however it delivers a more solid approach that before, and although it is cliche in its finest form, it is still enjoyable and quiet freaky. It's the clever concept of crazy clowns that heightens the fear from bland to chilling, and it works especially well for The Houses October Built; maybe one of the things it should brag about.
Compared to the state of the found footage sub-genre in recent years, The Houses October Built is a refreshing improvement and would fit a Halloween night watch. Ultimately however, it is far too dull and inconsistent to make up for its frequent stumble into cliched territory, despite its interesting set-up that is utterly ruined by its poor delivery.

2014 / 90 mins / Found Footage / R

Director: Bobby Roe

Writer: Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe

Stars: Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mickey Roe

1 comment:

  1. It certainly doesn't sound like an especially great film. Perhaps if you want a good haunted house movie you're best sticking to 1963's The Haunting. That film was actually scary even today.



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