The most wonderful time of the year is in full bloom, creeps! Halloween is right around the corner and I know nothing excites us more than coming up with our individual ‘watch lists’ for the next few weeks. The month of October has already exploded with a ton of quality content, all streamable through your favorite services making those lists a little more diverse. Shudder subscriptions seem to climb higher and higher as they acquire more impressive streaming rights, while Netflix has an exciting release almost every week of October. If you’re feeling more adventurous, however, the Halloween season tends to summon the construction of spooky places, real and simulated, that are open to the public.
Haunted houses, or haunts, have gone through an impressive resurgence throughout the last decade fulfilling our insatiable need for tantalizing interactions. Like the growth within the horror genre itself, fans increasingly seek out real terror more and more. There’s no better way to satisfy that craving than to open the doors and allow them to experience the scares of a film in a controlled environment. It’s as close as we can get to the horrors we love without being in any real danger. We expect to return safely to reality once the tour is over, something the innocent haunters of Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House, LLC (2015) will sadly learn is not always the case.
“What’s more extreme than an attraction swallowing your soul and trapping you inside of it for eternity?”
Haunts are becoming more niche, and increasingly more extreme. As of late, films are trying to adapt the creepy atmosphere and potential threat of a haunt as seen in Hell Fest, Blood Fest, and The Houses October Built. What’s more extreme than an attraction swallowing your soul and trapping you inside of it for eternity? Hell House, LLC, a successful found footage sleeper, answered that question for us back in 2015 and Hell House, LLC II: The Abbadon Hotel, premiering exclusively on Shudder September 20th, 2018. This double threat effectively proves there is a lot more to this story than an old establishment decorated with cheap Halloween thrills.
Still holding off on seeing Hell House, LLC? Not convinced The Abaddon is worthy of a visit? Allow me to present Hell House, LLC’s selling points in all of their low-budget, effectively entertaining glory. There is, however, a waiver you’ll need to sign prior to entry. Hell House, LLC holds no responsibility for loss of life. It’s an expected occurrence.
There are a million haunted houses on the market out there. They all have their myths and legends, becoming the palette for some tragic event or home to an evil entity of some sorts. Rarely does an establishment have more than one reason for a haunting, but the ominous Abaddon Hotel does! You see, when we are introduced to The Abaddon in Hell House, LLC by a young crew of professional haunters Alex, his girlfriend Sara, his best friend Mac, and their crew members Tony and Paul, the town’s legend had already settled in.
The Hell House, LLC tapes follow the crew as they prepare for an annual haunt extravaganza of horrific proportions. As they set up fog machines, cheers to success, and get into costume, some spooky, unexplained occurrences initiate impending doom. As viewers, we are aware of the fatal evening as a secondary documentary crew led by Diane Graves acts as our agent of discovery as to what went wrong on the opening night of Hell House. These average friends, loyal to one another and to the cause of Hell House, work to provide the scariest experience, but unfortunately fall victim, along with ten innocent souls, to the true haunt of The Abaddon.
Any property rich in history is profitable, regardless of casualties. In some cases, the higher the body count, the higher the price tag. Hell House, LLC cashes in on this relevant tragedy giving the haunted house attraction a meaningful purpose and serving as a reasonable plot for a modern day horror film.
“Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel adds the perfect amount of intrigue, technique, and thrill to what could have been an efficient standalone film.”
If one secondhand experience of a hotel bent on devouring souls wasn’t enough for you, the drones of people that can’t seem to heed its warning have got you covered. This month, Hell House, LLC continues to damn visitors with its horrific hospitality. In a continuous domino effect, this second level installment reveals the slightly shocking truth that there is so much more to The Abaddon than just a devastating haunt malfunction.
Shudder exclusive, Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel answers questions that the first film purposely left ambiguous. An equally brilliant follow-up the sequel made its way onto Shudder as a highly anticipated fall release as well as an exclusive from our beloved streaming platform. Not only does it efficiently operate within the same residence as the original, but it also adds the perfect amount of intrigue, technique, and thrill to what could have been an efficient standalone film.
Eight years following the deadly scene left behind at The Abaddon (all blamed on a technical malfunction) modern investigative journalist Jessica Fox enlists the help of her own crew and boyfriend Mitchell Cavanaugh to uncover the truths she believes are still hidden within the building . What they encounter in Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel are answers better left buried within the lore of a mysterious hotel owner and the standing walls of evil he reinforces from the grave.
It is often that sequels falter due to lack of plot, ultimately failing to find a story of its own following the first installment. Cognetti, only a writer and director of short films prior to Hell House, LLC, tactfully left enough questions unanswered when Alex and his crew entered The Abaddon, leaving plenty of development left for Jessica to support and enough mystery for her crew to unearth in a sequel. The intensity dutifully increases as far as scares are concerned and the plot only becomes more interesting as this third film crew enters the hotel. Like the shock of a simple animatronic skeleton popping up at our side, these unexpected high points take Hell House, LLC from the forgotten crevices of the basement to the inhabited ground level, a placement worthy of contemporary cult status.
“This is not your average haunted house, set up on a isolated hill in the middle of nowhere.”
Some towns are known for their landmarks, their parks, their buildings, and some are even known for their monuments. Rockland County, New York, a suburban parkland district bordering the city boroughs, is known for two things: its rocky terrain and its historic real estate. The suburb is home to The DeWint House, the historic Rockland County Courthouse, the Carson McCullers House, and the site of Hell House, LLC’s infamous Abaddon Hotel. Being a Putnam County native myself, I can easily recall this neighboring county’s strong memorialized placement throughout the American Revolution and the lore that spread around both sides of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Fortunately, The Abaddon is not a real building, but it draws on a key factor that haunts and horror film success depends on: location, location, location.
This is not your average haunted house, set up on a isolated hill in the middle of nowhere. What makes this location so unique is that it’s set right in the middle of a populated, considerably higher income, residential street. The Abaddon is a prime spot for frights as it not only has the intrigue of lore behind it, but its average look and setting serves as a strong foundation to build Hell House, LLC’s legacy. If you’ve ever seen upstate New York farmhouses or main street buildings, you’ll recognize that the old, tattered structure, confusing, winding hallways, creaking wood frames, and even the tacky wallpaper as signature features of The Abaddon.
The perfect location isn’t enough for you? Well, Hell House, LLC and Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel not only simulate the setting of a haunt taking place in a haunted hotel, but it was also filmed in… a real haunted hotel that comes alive as a real haunt attraction a few weeks out of the year. How’s that for meta-horror?
The Waldorf Hotel of Lehighton, PA, what we know to be The Abaddon Hotel where Alex, his crew, Diane, and Jessica’s crew members meet their tragic fates, is a historic building with some incredible lore all its own including a man named Oliver Sommersby and a plethora of unexplained disappearances. What we see on the screen when Hell House activates is a close match to the attractions set up by The Waldorf Estate of FEAR, proving the filmmakers went all-in on not only the location, but something pretty unattainable: a true horror lore factor.
Horror fans are a tough crowd to please as art house films have drowned out the numerous found footage blends that have plagued the genre since The Blair Witch Project captivated, and tricked, audiences years ago. The format has been duplicated so many times over, each release rating lower and lower with viewers. Lately, the term ‘found footage’ is almost a sure death sentence for any film daring to take on that point of view. With a considerably troublesome title like Hell House, LLC, a soft release from the Telluride Horror Film Festival straight to VOD back in 2015 via Amazon Prime, and a plot revolving around a haunted house, it’s no surprise this was not on the top of everyone’s ‘must watch’ list when it crept its way into our streaming algorithms. However, as hard as we are to please, we are just as easily complacent in giving the so-called “B-Rated” flicks a chance between the release of big time hits. This, readers, are how “gems” are born.
“…the devil is truly in the details when it comes to the Hell House, LLC films breaking ground in the surplus sub-genre of found footage horror”
Hell House, LLC and Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (an equally troublesome title) are prime examples of gems mined from the caverns of film streaming. What takes a film from being “B-Rated” to a “gem”? Authenticity. This is that little extra bonus room and hardwood flooring that hangs the ‘SOLD’ sign on Hell House, LLC.
The story takes place on haunted ground and its filming took place in a supposedly haunted hotel you can visit for yourself, although I don’t recommend watching these after putting down a reservation deposit. While the location acts as prime real estate foundation, the devil is truly in the details when it comes to the Hell House, LLC films breaking ground in the surplus sub-genre of found footage horror. The setting is as real as can be, literally so, but as are the most important parts: the scares.
There is nothing obviously staged on this set, aside from the artificial frights and even those provide good old-fashioned terror. Both Hell House, LLC films rely on practical effects, hardly using any CGI, if it is utilized it’s barely noticeable, in the way only a local pop-up haunted house can provide. It’s an exciting atmosphere we’re familiar with, but one that gives us that anxious feeling all the same. Dry ice smoke, fake blood, latex masks, haunters in character, and prop dummies, both mobile and immobile, are there to give patrons the creeps, but they also serve as effective scares for the crew members and audiences. Questionably inanimate clowns, manipulated acoustics (and voices), and a homicidal soul forever terrorizing hotel guests entrap both crews in shockingly surprising final acts knotting up all of the loose ends.
The house and the evil spiritual presence animating it, along with the purposeful found footage point-of-view provides a virtual tour through layers of spooky materialization that is, quite frankly, believable. These films may not live up to the semi-pretentious standards we hold successful horror to these days, but as an ambitious straight-to-VOD endeavor that has gotten the fans talking, we have to give credit where it’s due. So, make the check out to Hell House, LLC.
Now that Hell House, LLC and Hell House, LLC 2: The Abaddon Hotel are both exclusively on Shudder, you have the unique opportunity to experience the scares of a haunt and the effective terror of a supernatural film you can enjoy from the actual safety of your own home… that is unless your house is haunted. If so, you may be in the market for some new real estate. I do hear that Lehighton, PA is beautiful this time of year.
Have you streamed Hell House, LLC and Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel? Let us know your thoughts on this modern found footage success over on Twitter, our Horror Movie Fiend Club Facebook page, or on our Subreddit page!