I have been watching horror movies since I was very young. Sometimes I feel I have become jaded. Jump scares and gross outs are one thing, but it has been a long time since I saw a movie that truly freaked me out. A movie may scare me, but I seldom lose any sleep over it. After watching THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT, not only was my aversion to clowns solidified, but I felt the need to watch something else before going to bed.
The indie film was co-written by Bobby Roe (Director), Zack Andrews (Producer) and Jeff Larson. All three also star in the film along with Brandy Schaefer and Mikey Roe. Jason Zada was also a co-writer. It is a found footage movie, which normally would drive me away, but it is well done. Shaky when necessary, focused when needed.
The group of friends is documenting a cross-country road trip in search of the most extreme Halloween haunt. They want to explore the urban legends surrounding such attractions: real dead bodies, real murdering employees and the like. Their ultimate goal is a secret underground attraction called the Blue Skeleton that you have to be invited to attend. Interspersed with their footage is real (pseudo-real) news footage of actual haunts and stories of gruesome deaths. There are also interviews with people who work the haunts, which are some of the most bizarre moments of the film. The deadpan responses some of them give are chilling.
What starts out as a fun trip starts to get disturbing when Mikey makes a scene at the first haunt, pissing off the unnerving head clown and his group of weirdos. The group finds themselves being tracked by the haunt workers at their every stop. The intrusions and subsequent attractions become increasingly menacing, blurring the line between entertainment and actual threat. Despite the fact the weirdos are crossing the line, including one of the best scenes involving Porcelain Girl ( Chloe Crampton), the group presses on until they find Blue Skeleton. Unfortunately, they begin to realize they may have found too much of what they were looking for.
The haunt weirdos are the best part of the film. Porcelain Girl will stay in my nightmares, I’m afraid. There are great shots inside the haunts that make you question what exactly is going on. The opening shot of Brandy dazed and bloodied, thrown in a car trunk and bathed in a red light, sets the mood for the film This group has vastly underestimated the people they have provoked. There is the feel that the group is being hunted and led into a trap. The audience is left to question throughout the film, “Is it real? Or are they just being given the ride they asked for?”