I first saw this movie a little over a year ago, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. It was not any expectations from the movie itself; I just don’t tend to love this subgenre (although I have seen more movies that make me a believer than not lately). I was thoroughly impressed. It has a lot of tension, it is genuinely scary (although leans more for jump scares than suspense). I did not feel as much love for the follow-ups. They are okay, but they don’t live up to this one and undo some of the mystery, which I think was important.
Regardless I thought I would talk a bit about the idea of an actually haunted, or dangerous in whatever way, haunted house attraction. I think it is a fantastic setting for the horror genre and is kind of shockingly underused. In fact, more often than not, amusement park horror movies get lumped in with ones that take place in haunted house attractions simply because they will generally feature a “haunted house” part of the overall park.
I think aside from it just making sense as a place to consider, you are covered by the darkness and screams, people have their guard down, so whether your killer is real or supernatural, they can work within it. It also taps into something in us.
I think horror fans especially love the concept of a haunted house that is not safe because it takes one of our “controlled fear” methods and makes it no longer safe. It is a setting where we are vulnerable, and there is a degree of trust that the horror is not real, that you are safe. These movies play with that.
The more real that the fears in horror movies are, often the more impact they have. No, Hell House is decidedly not real, and neither are the fears-but the setting hits on the same sort of feeling, are we safe in haunted houses. It is not precisely the same but almost in the same vein. I think the only way the setting can be used more effectively (as far as real-world fear) is more psychologically or real killers, both of which have been explored.
I like Hell House LLC, and I enjoyed revisiting it. I would also like to see more movies that are in haunted house attractions and not just haunted houses.