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Release Date: October 10, 2014 (Limited and VOD)
Director: Bobby Roe
MPAA Rating: NR

The Houses October Built is yet another film in a seemingly never-ending, relentless downpour of found-footage horror. While it follows the same exact beats as so many others like it, this one does manage to provide a number of cheap thrills and a concept that isn’t wholly unoriginal. In the end though, it’s just another found-footage horror movie that doesn’t make much technical sense and would probably work a thousand times better if it were shot traditionally.

The film revolves around a group of assholes taking a cross-country road trip visiting America’s most extreme haunts in order to find the ultimate Halloween attraction. After acting like a bunch of pricks early in their adventure, they realize they might be getting stalked by some creepy costumed performers.

The thing about this movie is that the found-footage mechanic actually works in certain parts of this film. As the group goes from haunt to haunt, they take cameras with them as they travel through the various houses. This proves to be genuinely effective and, at times, very scary. This reminded me of how Frankenstein’s Army was presented, almost like a first-person walkthrough of a haunted house, with various horrific creatures popping out and scaring the bejesus out of you.

Where the found footage didn’t work was everywhere else. The supposed comedic banter between the friends as they travel from place to place was an unpleasant, unfunny bore, and the constant digital glitches made me once again ponder where all these hapless victims in found footage movies buy their equipment because it’s all defective.

The characters are all annoying, unlikable and completely forgettable. Even writing this review minutes after watching it, I can’t recall what at least two of them looked like. The perspective frequently changes from person to person, which makes the indistinguishable characters even tougher to pinpoint, resulting in the film’s finale to feel like a jumbled mess. And really, none of the characters brought anything to the table personality-wise so it hardly mattered whose perspective we were seeing in the end.

One thing this does have going for it are the scares, which are on point throughout most of the film. From creepy people in costume standing stoically in the corner of a room to creepy people in costume chasing after the protagonists, the horror in the movie very accurately mimics that of an actual haunted house. While it can’t replace the primal fear that those places generate, there were still plenty of fun jump scares.

The most unfortunate thing about The Houses October Built is that it’s a genuinely cool concept for a horror film and one that I really wish worked out better. Maybe if the filmmakers only used the found-footage perspective during the haunted house scenes, or maybe if the characters were actually likable and had one iota of depth, it would have been a better film.

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