Stephen Cognetti, the creator behind the spooktacular Hell House LLC series, cranks up the dread yet again in his latest installment, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor. While The Abaddon Hotel from earlier films in the series has become a hallmark of terror for the franchise, this new installment explores a different haunted setting, the Carmichael Manor. Does this new haunt measure up to the terrifying charm of the Abaddon? Hold onto your night lights as we delve into this latest found footage fright!
Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is set in 2021, with internet sleuth Margot Bentley (Bridget Rose Perrotta) leading a reluctant crew into the heart of the Carmichael Manor’s mysteries after getting a hot ghost-hunter exclusive; five uninterrupted nights at the estate, the site of the unsolved 1989 Carmichael family murders. Armed with a few handheld cameras, Margot, her real estate girlfriend Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown), and her troubled brother Chase Bentley (James Liddell) step into the shadows that have harbored terror long before the Hell House LLC saga.
The film maintains a steady grip on the found footage narrative, a technique that has proven to serve it well in the series. Origins is effective at creating great suspense with leading interviews and talking heads from ‘experts’ in the field who’ve already seen the ‘footage’ before audiences get a chance to. Gory details are teased and hinted at; hell, we’re even told of our sleuths’ grave fate right up top. We’re all warmed up and primed for fear before being dropped into our sleuths’ captured footage, where we’re then treated to jolting scares and a promising mystery; with a hefty dose of shaky cam. The transition from the infamous Abaddon Hotel to the Carmichael Manor comes with a promise of fresh haunts, and initially, the shift in setting does create fresh anticipation.
However, as the film unfolds, we find old ghosts from the Abaddon Hotel making a rather bold cameo. The creepy mannequin clowns, a hallmark terror trope from the original film, haunt the halls of Carmichael Manor too. The clowns are undeniably petrifying, but their overuse in a setting ripe for new haunts feels like a missed chance to elevate the terror ante. This tethering to the original film’s horrors creates a sense of déjà vu, maybe to the film’s detriment.
Amidst the recycled frights, there shines a moment of sheer terror genius – a zoom scare sequence that is so inventive and well-executed, it almost feels squandered in a sequel. The sequence is a testament to Cognetti’s ability to evolve the scare game, which leaves one wishing for more such moments.
In terms of scare delivery and found footage sequelability, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor aligns well with the later entries of the Paranormal Activity series; not groundbreaking, but definitely worth a watch in the dark.
One can’t help but appreciate the effort to tie in the new haunting with the old, though with a tinge of longing for fresher scares that could’ve been. Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is undoubtedly a solid entry into the found footage horror genre, albeit with room for unexplored terror territories. It’s a dark, eerie stroll down a familiar yet terrifying hall, and for fans of the franchise, it’s a stroll worth taking.
[Review] Familiar Frights Find a Fresh Haunt in HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: CARMICHAEL MANOR
Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is undoubtedly a solid entry into the found footage horror genre, albeit with room for unexplored terror territories. It's a dark, eerie stroll down a familiar yet terrifying hall, and for fans of the franchise, it's a stroll worth taking.
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