Written Review: The Houses October Built
Let me begin by saying that this review is coming from the POV of a former scare actor who did 13 years in the biz. I hope this side of the story gives people a more open minded perspective on how extreme the actors have to be to satisfy the customers. Alright, to start, this movie has one of the best titles of all time. This is a found footage film that follows a group of friends who want to take to the open road to find the “most extreme haunt in the world” although they literally only stop in Texas and Louisiana. They stop at a few haunts until finally getting captured by the Blue Skeleton “underground” haunt to get the extreme scare that they’ve been searching for.
I am going to tell you all right now that this film is one giant fucking TROLLFEST! Every single interaction that the characters have with the scare actors is, as summed up in one word, trolling. The scare actors just troll them so hard, and they are so dumb they don’t even realize it. More on that later. Let’s get on with the show.
The story is overall well done. The little personal interviews and news station clips and statistics are all nice touches to sweeten the viewer, making them actually question the haunts they know and love. The found footage aspect of filming is well done, and the camera is usually very steady. In the beginning, there is talk of murderers and rapists and whatever being hired at haunts because of the lack of background checks. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that actual murderers are hired, but there are absolutely NO background checks done. Keep that in mind the next time you want to do a “touch” haunt. Also, the idea of an “underground haunt” (Blue Skeleton) is interesting, but it is laughable at best. To think that, even in a big city like Baton Rouge, a bunch of haunters would get together to kidnap you and scare you is kind of excessive.
Let’s talk about how well this movie does to describe how sketchy haunts are, IRL. The important part is when the group of friends talk to some scare actors, asking them what kind of sketchy shit goes down. But they can’t answer, because if anyone outside of the haunt knew what went down, the guests wouldn’t come back and the haunts would be shut down. Once again, background checks? Gimme a break…
Anyway, they go to haunts, with names such as The Haunt House, which is totally realistic because usually freaky haunts are stuck with lame ass names. The group of friends are all typical customers, but at the first haunt, they think it might be funny to climb onto a roof and steal a megaphone? Then they get surprised when some scare actors get pissed at them and try to break their camera. You broke the rules at a haunt, and the actors don’t really have any rules so they will troll the fuck out of you to freak you out. Then they wonder why the haunt actor stands in front of the car after the group was caught breaking the rules and fucking around and touching stuff that doesn’t belong to them. They are NOT SPECIAL. YOU WILL GET FUCKED WITH IF YOU FUCK AROUND AND DO THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO! This is just how it is.
This film is literally the epitome of showcasing the most idiotic customers who have it coming. They are so foolish and naive and have no idea what they’re doing. I have been waiting for a movie that shows just how far people think they want to go for a good scare, then when they’re actually experiencing it, they have a complete meltdown and think there are lines being crossed…but they were the ones ASKING FOR IT SO STOP BEING FUCKING HYPOCRITES.
They hit up a few more haunts, that seem to get more and more extreme by the night, and you can see them wearing thin, becoming uncomfortable, and freaking out when they hear an actor say the fuck word. They literally say things such as “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” You are at a haunted attraction, so the depth of their stupidity is just laughable and it makes me hate them more, and always side with the actors. Once they get further South they’re discussing how it’s the “backwoods” and there are no rules and regulations. That statement is so fucking true its unreal, but that would be at ANY sketchy haunt you go to, “backwoods” or not. The way these people are getting treated by the actors is 100% fair from my POV. The more the actors troll them because of their fear, the more they freak out, and round and round it goes. You freak out because you think the actors are going too far, but they are laughing at you under their masks because you’re not using your head. They finally find the “underground haunt” in Baton Rouge, end up being separated, kidnapped, and ridden out to the middle of nowhere, going through a prop house, then end up buried alive.
All in all, they wanted extreme, and extreme is what they got. Instead of enjoying it, they cried about it.
I understand that there needs to be obligatory party scenes and pot smoking scenes to show the audience that they’re just a bunch of identifiable young adults, but there is little to no character development, and the characters have no likable traits. Let me pick apart a few things about them that irked me to no end.
Again, I know they are supposed to act very frightened because they are attending haunted attractions, but if they’re looking for the most extreme haunt in the world, you’d think they’d be able to handle a bit more? I mean at one point they discuss their fear of snakes? COME ON PEOPLE! Pathetic!
Let’s talk about Brandy and how utterly useless she is as a character. She might as well not even be in the movie and the outcome would be the exact same. In the beginning she goes as far as to say that the last time she had been to a haunt was when she was 8. If your friends ask you to come on a five day road trip to find the MOST EXTREME HAUNT IN THE WORLD would you really go, since you love haunts so much you have avoided them your whole adult life…*sarcasm* but honestly, that’s entirely unrealistic and I wouldn’t agree to the trip if I was so afraid I didn’t go to a haunt since I was a small child. Then at one of the haunts, she proceed to get into a coffin, then when the lid is closed, bangs on the lid asking them to let her out, later saying “Don’t you guys know I’m claustrophobic?” So…are you an idiot? Why did you get in the coffin in the first place? I can identify with this, because the same EXACT thing happened to me at my haunt. I told a girl to get inside a coffin, she did, and then demanded to be let out, and stormed away, muttering under her breath that she was claustrophobic. So…the minute you agree to get into a coffin means you’re full of shit. Or somehow you didn’t realize a coffin was so…small?
Another little thing about Brandy: she kind of freaks out when one of the actors says her name, and she wonders how the actor knows it. Literally, even if you slip your name ONE TIME in line, in the parking lot, in the haunt, literally anywhere, some actor will hear it and pass it along to other actors with your description to TROLL YOU. Actors are clever, sneaky, with great attention to detail and we will fuck with you until you step into your car to leave the attraction.
As the movie progresses, the main characters keep making choices that further annoy me, and I applaud the scare actors for targeting them because they deserve it. I mean, they’re good at being afraid, but when they start “acting” afraid it comes off as forced with too much interrogation. “Why are you following me?” Are you kidding? You just PAID a ticket taker to be followed. They could have had better writing, but they also could have said nothing and screamed the whole time: either would have been better. It’s like they don’t understand that extreme haunts are supposed to make you afraid and uncomfortable…unbelievable.
Thank goodness for the haunt actors. They have the best one-liners, which cracks me up because scare actors actually talk like that. They also do great by being creepy and coming at people. If you go to a haunt with rules stating no cameras, but the guests STILL take video, they need to expect to be reprimanded. There is a reason why you can’t record in those places. They had the gall to say “It’s getting out of hand” when THEY were the ones who broke the rules. A haunt is not a fucking free-for-all (for the guests).
Let’s go on and discuss the Blue Skeleton actors. They did everything right. From speaking very little, to then laughing in the captor’s black-bagged faces. They smelled the fear on Brandy and immediately separated her from the rest of the group. That’s how it is IRL too, if you act out and show your fear, you become the weakest link in the group and you’ll get all the attention.
In the end, the main group of friends fall short with their performances, but not until one of them mutters the be all-end all of quotes. “I’m not scared of them – This isn’t real, right?”
That’s right my friend, it’s 100% NOT real, and the only reason that it seems real is because you’ve psyched yourselves out to the point of paranoia, and the fear takes over. Then the actors use it against you in this whole fun thing we call: trolling.
As a quick note regarding how the camera is handled when going through the third (?) haunt. There are many quick stops, strobe lights, and just shaking and moving to make it seem like the guests are maybe being pushed or tripping over things, but if you kind of mute the screaming, and watch the clip back a few more times, the inside of the scene rooms are kind of…basic. The actors are doing literally nothing but screaming at you once you enter the room as a jump scare, and then waiting in silence a few moments before screaming again, telling the guest to get out, etc. Seriously, I expected more out of you, little haunt.
Moving on to art direction and visual elements – well done with the beautiful shot of the RV high beams turning on to show clowns surrounding them in all directions. Then they’re gone in the next minute. Well done. Even I was creeped out.
I’m glad they keep the spirit of Halloween by leaving the “Carve Me” pumpkin. Let’s not forget what this movie is all about.
Finally, the house that the Blue Skeleton actors drop the group of friends into is staggeringly well designed. It is well lit, but it’s a dingy yellow light that just turns your stomach and makes you feel uneasy. Every detail of that place is decorated with fear in mind. The white noise on the television, and the complete silence in other rooms. Sure, when you’re in a haunt with loud noises and screaming, it’s scary, but complete silence is much, much worse.
Yes. Yes. 100 times over, yes. I’m sure some viewers watch a film like that and think it’s a bit far fetched. Let me clear something up right now: there is NOTHING shown in this film that a scare actor won’t do. Going as far as to verbally assault you as you try to urinate in the port-o-potty. Feel like you should pee before you get in line? Such a poor decision. I myself am guilty of harassing innocent people as they try to relive themselves. Like I said before: no rules.
Now, about the part where they talk about scare actors accidentally killing themselves, like getting hung on prop nooses and such. Well, I don’t know about accidental death, but being in a haunted attraction is a dangerous game in itself. Nothing is completely safe (although we try to keep the guests as safe as possible) the stunts the actors preform are not safe in the slightest. Haunt actors do get hurt, all the time, and sometimes these injuries are critical. I’m talking broken necks and life-flights. It’s happened at my haunt, and I guarantee it happens at all the rest, too. This is how far actors are pushed to scare those who just want more.
There is a bit in the movie with an actor or a haunt owner talking about how people want it hardcore, and the actors willing to do everything short of killing you. It actually goes to show how disturbed the people are who want it more and more extreme. It needs to be taken further and further to get to the fear threshold, and the actors need to go as far as they can to satisfy that. Thinking you want it extreme is one thing, and actually going through with it is another. The scare actors are constantly being pushed to their limits to get those scares for the psychos who want it to go further than necessary. People like haunts because they are controlled environments. It’s okay to feel afraid, because it’s over in a few moments. The extreme haunts are not controlled, and when you think it’s supposed to be over, it’s not. Safe words don’t work, running doesn’t work when you’re tied up, and telling them to stop just makes it all worse, and you’re losing money. You think extreme haunts are cheap? You have to see it from both sides. And I haven’t found a haunt that will actually bury you alive, but they come close in other aspects. Don’t believe me?
The last clip before credits roll is the most realistic of them all. Two months out of the year, a few nights a week, and 5-8 hours a night, you get to put on makeup or a mask and a costume and becomes someone else. You become your darkest self, and people travel from miles around and pay to see it.
It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong, with great scare actor representation and foolish customer representation, you may think this whole time I’ve been complaining about the film, but no, I loved it.
This one gets an Awww yeah because I identified with every second of this film. Thank you for this.
And once again, thanks for reading.