(Ch)Op-Ed #13: An Underappreciated Franchise: Hell House LLC (2015-2019)

Some time ago, I apparently watched Hell House LLC, and promptly erased it from my memory bank. With Grave Encounters, Deadstream, Haunted Asylum, The Houses October Built, among so, so many others, it is easy to forget which of the haunted location found footage films you have and have not seen. I don’t know if I was preoccupied (I tend to multitask when I watch films much to the detriment of my viewing experience) or high on crack, but I didn’t think much of it. With a recommendation from some people on The Horror Syndicate, I decided to watch the original trilogy before I see the new one. 

Hell House LLC (2015) 


Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. 

IMDb: 6.4 

Rotten Tomatoes: 75% 

Clowns can be incredibly frightening when done right, and this film totally does it right. The damned things barely move, but when they do, it happens off screen, appearing in different places, or just looking in weird directions, and it sends shivers up your spine.  

It is safe to say that in any franchise, the first one is almost always the best, and this one far surpassed my expectations. It’s tense, it does that “scour the background for any appearances of ghosts or scary shit” routine that the best found footage films employ, and it really builds to a frightening finale. Not since Paranormal Activity has a found footage film built to such a terrifying climax with such a great payoff. 

There is rarely a location in a movie that elicits an emotion that makes you feel something every single time you get near it, and this movie has that. The basement is nightmare fuel. The occult symbols. Those damn clowns. The bibles. The unfinished floor. The creepy twisting stairs. The movie lives and dies in that basement. If that and the clowns don’t scare you, then this franchise is not for you. It won’t get any better. 

Hell House LLC: The Abaddon Hotel (2018) 


Nine years following the tragic events at the Abaddon Hotel, an investigative news team went searching for answers. The truth was more terrifying than they ever imagined. 

IMDb: 5.3 

Rotten Tomatoes: 32% 

The second one has its moments as well, mostly hitting the same beats. I enjoy that they show different people entering the house, several different Youtubers, hence we get more of the scary stuff which is the stalking/killing stuff. Considering the smaller amount of main characters in this one, the added sacrifices of randos just breaking into the house to meet their demise gives us a little extra fear factor.

What I didn’t like was the framework of the movie which was the Morning Mysteries panel show. It was pretty hokey. The psychic guy Brock Davies was supposed to be comic relief I guess, but he was truly overacting and annoying. The death scene with him and his cameraman inside the house is one of the best in the entire film. The old man guest, Arnold Tasselman, and his plot twist ruined the movie, because there was just too much exposition and not enough scares at the end.  

Imagine if they actually showed the Blair Witch at the end of the movie in 1999. Would it have been as scary? They kind of did that here, and it killed the ending. Putting a face on a ghost really hurts it in this case. 

Hell House LLC: Lake of Fire (2019) 


The Abaddon Hotel will once again be open to the public. Russell Wynn has taken his audience-interactive show, Insomnia, into the abandoned hotel that is rumored to be haunted. 

IMDb: 5.1 

Rotten Tomatoes: 14% 

I watched this one, knowing it was not going to be as good, since it seems to be the one that people shit all over, and they are right. The new set dressing, i.e., the hallway of heaven or whatever they called it, was cool, but I enjoyed the old hotel setup. I felt like I was finally learning the layout of the haunted house, and then they had to go get it made up to be some kind of immersive 3D Faust play.  

But once again, there is way too much exposition. There are flashbacks, where it seems like every actor that has been in the franchise appears again, and it just amounts to nothing. The ending nullifies the whole franchise and even brings religion into it, which seemingly had no place in any of the movies until the final ten minutes of the THIRD ENTRY.  

**SPOILERS** I don’t understand why some of the people survived, and some are trapped as ghosts in the house. Dead is dead, so why did some come back? What made the difference? Too confusing. 

Overall, they are a lot of fun. They all have scary moments, especially the first one, but some are definitely better than the others. The third one has plot holes you could drive a 1984 Russian tank through, and the second one is definitely derivative of the first one. But turn off your brain and enjoy this found footage masterpiece trilogy. More are coming, as the fourth one, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor, will probably be out by the time you are reading this article (it’s due October 30th).  

Whatever you do, don’t ask why people still film when they do. Just stop it already. If they stopped filming, we would have no idea what’s going on, dammit! 


Hell House LLC 8.5/10 Stab Wounds 

Hell House LLC: The Abaddon Hotel 6.5/10 Stab Wounds 

Hell House LLC: Lake of Fire 5.5/10 Stab Wounds 

About RetRo(n) 61 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.