For the past decade or so, there has been a rising number of haunted houses or “haunts” that have taken up the majority of the Halloween season. Whether they be smaller, home-based huanted houses or warehouses decked out in scary decorations and masked workers chasing people out while trying to make them piss their pants, the increase in such places like that has continually sparked a need for more and more. When safe-feeling ones tend to get a bit stale after a while, fright-goers are starting to want something bigger, better and more “real”-feeling. With that need, haunts such as “Blackout”, a NYC and LA based attraction that pushes the horror envelope about as far as possible, with nudity, blood and the feeling that you’re in real danger, have hit the scene, causing horror fans to get those scares that put them right up there with being in real danger. Bobby Roe’s THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT uses that desire for more intense and real-feeling haunts and injects those desires into the found footage horror angle, not only creating a real feeling film, but one that will scare the hell out of you and make you think twice about visiting another haunt again.
Seeming like part-documentary and part-straight up horror film, THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT follow a group of five friends, on a mission to find haunts that aren’t just your typical hayrides with people popping up every once in a while. The characters are tired of the same thing, and want to be genuinely scared, to find a “hardcore” haunt, one that will feel as real as possible.
Utilizing the found footage/POV angle, the film does an excellent job, right from the get-go, of establishing how as people, we always want to push things one step further, wanting the next scare to be closer to actual danger. As the gang heads from haunt to haunt, things become increasingly obvious that the might be looking into something they shouldn’t. When in the middle of a haunt, they upset the wrong group of mask-wearing clowns, skeleton-mask wearers and various others and faster than you can say ‘bad idea’, the group begins to be stalked at every location that follows.
What sets THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT from so many other found footage films, is that it feels like it’s 100% real the entire time. There isn’t a need for ghosts or anything of the paranormal in this one, as the scares feel very real and very possible, given anybody happening to be in the wrong place and pissing off the wrong clown. In between the film’s narrative, there are interviews with various haunt employees and attendees, all telling horror stories they’ve heard about various locations, making the film feel even more authentic than it already did, which is alot.
As the film goes on, and the gang realizes that they’re being stalked, the masked haunters not only employ typical creepiness, but basically attack the group while they’re stuck in their RV, in a handful of scenes that aren’t just good, but are genuinely TERRIFYING. It’s pretty difficult these days to get scared by much of the found footage fare that comes out, as we all don’t expect paranormal craziness to be in our lives, but the events and the antagonists that fill said events are all people who could very well do the same things to you in real life, making the film feel very unsettling and downright shockingly real.
THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT strikes that terror directly into your heart like a syringe full of fear, leaving you on the edge of your seat, almost NOT wanting to know what’s coming next for the film’s characters. When the climax approaches and things become very real, you’re already heading into panic-attack territory, a testament to some of the most solid horror storytelling in a found footage movie in a great while.