Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor (2023) Fresh Meat #12

I recently watched the original trilogy very quickly and even wrote a (Ch)Op-Ed piece on it awhile back, in anticipation that this sequel would be coming out October 30th. My kids even watched them with me and made me wait until they got home from school to watch this one. As excited as I am, I am also apprehensive, for it doesn’t seem like it is going to be at the same location, which for me was one of the highlights of the first 3 films. I especially loved the basement setting. Truly, it was the stuff of nightmares. Luckily, writer/director Stephen Cognetti returns to further the tale, so we’re in good hands. 

Synopsis:  

A group of cold case investigators stay at the Carmichael Manor, site of the grisly and unsolved murders of the Carmichael family back in the eighties. After four nights, the group was never heard from again. What is discovered in their footage is even more disturbing than anything found on the Hell House tapes. 

IMDb: 5.9 

Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

Tagline: Every story has an origin. 

I can never figure out if obvious foreshadowing is a sign of good writing or bad writing. But there is so much foreshadowing in the tour of the house when the two girls arrive, it’s just crazy. The locked storage room, the servant’s buzzer, the daughter’s grisly death in the bed, and the missing son all are expected to play into the film later, based on my calculations. 

I was also wondering how this can be an origin story (it’s in the title), especially if it happens AFTER the first three films. Is it even related to them? I mean, they’ve already mentioned that the Abaddon Hotel from the adjacent town burned down awhile back. There are even souvenirs from its burnt remains at a local shop.  

And then there’s the tie-in of the creepy ass clowns.  

The setting is fine, but it’s not the same as the Abaddon. The house is just too nice. It’s too big. I know the crime occurred in 1989, but it should have been an older house for the setting. Like an old plantation style house in the South or something.  

There are some genuinely creepy moments and I do not want to spoil any of them here. But if you like the first three films, you will like this one as well. It’s very much in the same style. All four films employ many of the same types of scares, whether it be the way the camera moves and reveals things in the background or captures things that the characters don’t see. It’s not revolutionary or anything, and truthfully, copies most of what the first three films did.  

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those damn clowns freak me out every time I see them pop up in unexpected places. And they pop up plenty in this film.

The framing of the story is much more professional than previous entries. It’s not an annoying TV show, or the stupid theater troupe, it just goes back to the basics of paranormal sleuths going ghost hunting at a haunted location. Don’t reinvent the wheel. You don’t need the crazy story to make a scary movie.  

The music is different, adding to the feel of the movie, yet unexplained why it exists. Did they add it after they found the footage? These kinds of films hardly ever have music for a specific reason……it doesn’t make any damn sense. But I guess the framing is professionally done, and it could be argued that they were the ones that added the music. 

The first one is still the best by far, and I would rank this one in second place. (1, 4, 2, 3 for those keeping score at home). I disliked the setting, but the scares are great. It does tie into the original trilogy neatly and doesn’t feel forced.  

So, turn the lights down, crank the sound, and watch it tonight on Shudder. But don’t do it alone!  

7.0/10 Stab Wounds 

 

About RetRo(n) 54 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.