Saturday, February 7, 2015

my thoughts on.... 'The House That October Built'

Everyone keeps complaining about how the found footage genre is dead. However, every new film maker out there seems to want to take a stab at the genre. (All puns intended.) You get big budget film makers wanting a piece of the pie too and soon you have an over saturated marketplace. Where everyone seems to think that the whole thing is just played out. There's still a few of us die hard fans out there that are hoping that there is still life in this half dead horse. 'The House October Built' was making some pretty big promises that I wasn't sure it could keep. It also had some reputible critics behind it, championing it. Saying that it was bringing something new and different to the world of found footage. This peaked my interest. I mean, I've watched as many of these as I can find. Good ones, bad ones and ones that just didn't need to be made. They're like that meth habit that you just can't quit. One more hit. Maybe this one will be the one that satisfies me forever, but that hit never comes and that high never lasts. Was this the movie that finally caught the red dragon? Answers lie below.

The basic premise of this movie is simple, a group of 5 people are out to find out if the underground haunted houses are real. The ones that are hands on, in your face, realistic haunts that are only one step away from a real life horror film. Filming the entire adventure, they document the quest for the unknown. As they start their journey, they learn that it won't be as easy as they thought to find one of these mythical houses. But each and every mile that passes and the more haunted houses they attend, the deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole they go. Soon they're being harrassed by some of the workers from the haunts. They seem to be following them from town to town. Eventually the harrassment becomes all too real, but at the same time.... they get the invite to what they've been waiting for. On Halloween night, it finally happens. With one crew member already missing, they soon get split up and thrown in the nightmare they were looking for, but never really expected. What happens next, is something only you can find out.... if you're willing to take the journey.

It sounds good on paper, right? Well.... in actual execution, not so much. This is part of the reason I keep coming back to this genre. There's so many neat ideas that would work really well, but that just seem to fail time after time. Found footage is the new zombie movie. It used to be that the zombie movie was the type of movie every young film maker wanted to do. They were cheap, simple make up's and seemingly endless script ideas. Now, found footage is the way to go. It's even cheper, no make up needed for most of them and endless ideas. The problem is, anyone and everyone can make a movie like this. All you need is an off the shelf camera and some actor's. That's it. You're a film maker! However, that doesn't mean you've made a good film. It just means that you've edited a bunch of stuff together and created a narrative.... sometimes not even that much. The other problem is that no matter how unique and cool the idea sounds on paper, getting it to play out the way it was in your head and to have a satisfying finale, is a tick most can't pull off. So many movies (even big budget ones) fall flat on their faces in the third act, therefore I can't blame this movie for having the same issue. But if you're going to set out to make your dream project come true, make damn sure you have all the pieces of the puzzle. Otherwise, you're wasting your time and the viewers.

With all of that in mind, maybe the creators of this movie, Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Jason Zada and Jeff Larson thought they had an air tight finale. You'd think that the 4 of them would have come up with something more original. Something less 1st year film student. I'm not saying I have the first clue what that would be or that my view might not be warped because of being a jadded horror film lover. If I had all the ideas, talent and skills to make a movie, I'd be doing that instead of this. I fully aknowledge that I'm not on the other side of the lens and don't know all of the in's and out's. I competely respect anyone that loves an idea so much, that they invest themselves 100% in bringing it to life and this movie had a lot of good things going for it. Based on those factor's, I would still recommend this movie to the horror fan looking for something a little different. I'm giving it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Concept, execution and overall tone were there.... it was just the ending. Go out, spend some time with it and I think you'll find something enjoyable there. Even more so on Halloween night, before you go out to the local haunted house. You might just think twice.

If you like this, check out some other smaller found footage movies: 'The Poughkeepsie Tapes', 'Atrocious', and 'The Tunnel' (2011)

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