In the days running up to Halloween, a group of horror thrill seekers travel the backroads of Texas in search of extreme haunted house experiences. Along the way they pick up clues to a secret location that come with whispered assurances of it being the ultimate ‘haunt’. Because searching for some backwoods pit of terror that few people could ever locate is always going to end well, right?
The POV shakycam of found footage once again rears its perpetually disappointing head, begging us to validate its existence with a positive reaction. No such luck. Yes, it’s an effective way for low budget filmmakers to excuse ropey production values, but unless the stylistic gimmick is backed up with an interesting story and characters then all you’ve done is create yet another generic and forgettable horror flick. Which, sadly, is the case here.
In terms of characters, we get five utterly bland individuals to follow with only two of them being distinguishable, due to one being The Fat Bearded One and another being The Girl, the latter of whom also does a majority of the film’s shrieking. Yay for progressing storytelling! It’s a small wonder she never gets her boobs out. The peril of characters you care about are what make good horror films, and none of the generic quintet give you any reason to even bother remembering their names, let alone give a crap whether or not the ultimate thrills they seek might actually be the real thing.
While having costumed individuals from previous haunts inexplicably show up in several locations is a neat idea, it doesn’t pay off in any significant way, and ultimately does little more than distract from the fact that the story doesn’t actually have much in the way of a developing plot. Many scenes don’t even have an ending, just the camera abruptly cutting out when it becomes clear the filmmakers don’t know how to progress it or draw it to an adequate conclusion. In between, we get cutaway interviews of people who work and operate ghost house attractions, done in the style of archive news footage, presumably to ascribe a degree of authenticity to the story’s events and utterly failing to do so, which combined with the tedium of the film events, results in an experience as hollow and artificial as the toothless fairground attractions it goes out of its way to avoid.
THE HOUSES OF HALLOWEEN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: BOBBY ROE / SCREENPLAY: ZACK ANDREWS, JEFF LARSON, BOBBY ROE, JASON ZADA / STARRING: BRANDY SCHAEFER, ZACK ANDREWS, BOBBY ROE, MIKEY ROE, JEFF LARSON / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 5TH