The Houses October Built (2014)
The Houses October Built (2014)
Director: Bobby roe
Cast: Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe
Synopsis: Beneath the fake blood and cheap masks of countless haunted house attractions across the country, there are whispers of truly terrifying alternatives…
The friends who rashly embark on a cross-country journey to experience extreme haunts in Bobby Roe’s The Houses October Built are such a nondescript bunch that the thought of devoting even just one descriptive line to each of them is just too much to contemplate. All you really need to know about them is that they’re five in number – four men and one woman. One of the men is identifiable by his fuzzy beard but, apart from the fact that they all seem a little long in the tooth to be spending time on such a juvenile past-time, the others are almost completely anonymous
Anyway, they’re our eyes and ears for this found footage flick and we seem to spend a good deal of the first part of the movie in their rented RV as they search for the true meaning of Halloween (or something) in the remote backwaters of America where, as any moviegoer will tell you, all men are hillbilly rednecks. To be honest, they go a little over the top in their desire to film every aspect (and angle) of their Big Adventure, even attaching cameras to the RV’s exterior so that they can record mile after mile after mile of rather boring roads and countryside. Perhaps director Roe and his co-writers positioned them to record the sinister goings-on surrounding the RV once our hardy band are deep in redneck country? Not a bit of it – although the vehicle is assaulted a couple of times (at one point, the group’s tormentors even enter to film everyone as they sleep) – the cameras are strictly there to capture the tarmac and trees of America.
Most of their encounters with the natives in this strange and foreign land don’t go well from the moment when beardy guy climbs onto a roof at one Halloween gathering to call to the assembled thrill-seekers below, and things grow increasingly creepy and unsettling as the big night draws nearer. The Houses October Built appears to be building to a crescendo of bloody horror, but in reality it’s merely recording a sequence of incidents that are supposed to be frightening, but which would barely provoke spasms of nervous laughter from most people. When the stakes are raised enough for normal people to perhaps consider turning back, the gang ploughs stubbornly onward towards a fate that is as mundane as it is ambiguous.
To be fair to Roe, he does have a knack for creating scenes with a tense, uneasy atmosphere, but – like the movie itself – these scenes always end up going nowhere, they just fizzle out and don’t even form one piece of a puzzle to be explained at movie’s end. The film’s strongest card is the genuinely unnerving porcelain doll girl that features on the promotional material, but once again, Roe doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. With The Houses October Built, he’s hit upon a unique concept which has its roots in reality and which could have been turned into a mind-blowing horror picture, but then completely squanders its potential by shackling it to a dull story of annoying tourists with negligible video-filming skills.
(Reviewed 8th October 2015)