On July 19th, 2016, I was looking through Netflix for movies to watch, and I noticed The Houses October Built in the “Trending Now” section.
Having previously heard of it, I decided to look past the discouraging list of user reviews and watch it. This review doesn’t include major spoilers.
Basic Plot and Seemingly Intended Messages
The Houses October Built is a found footage-style faux-documentary about a group of friends searching for the most “extreme haunt” in the United States.
Determined to find it, they travel around the U.S. in an RV, documenting their experiences on the road and at real-life haunted attractions, where they have the opportunity to interview members from the shadier side of the haunt industry.
Although this may not be known to many of the viewers, the interviews featured in the movie are from its original version, which was intended to be a documentary (prior to the producer, Steven Schneider, reaching out to the director Bobby Roe).
In addition to the interviews, the featured news reports may also be real. The inclusion of both the reports during the opening sequence and the interviews throughout the film effectively communicate two messages with the audience: not everyone in the haunt industry can be trusted, and there may be real-life consequences for those who risk their lives for entertainment’s sake.
Opinions Regarding the Cast
The main cast of characters — a group of friends, all playing themselves — had both positive and negative effects on the film as a whole.
In terms of the positives, their interactions seemed more on the authentic side, and the female character, Brandy, added a little bit of gender diversity that would have otherwise been lacking.
Moving onto the negatives, there is a fair amount of screen time that may create a divide between the viewers and the main cast.
This is due to viewers being forced to watch as the group engages in random conversations and stereotypically male activities, which may not appeal to all members of the audience.
Furthermore, the characters themselves were mostly forgettable, which was especially apparent toward the conclusion, when I realized there were five friends as the main cast (whose names I didn’t remember), rather than only four.
Despite the aforementioned issues, there were other members of the cast whose performances created some genuinely unsettling moments: the doll mask character, and the clown, Giggles.
Both of these characters, especially the latter, provided evidence that scaring the audience can be accomplished without the use of elaborate lines and/or jump scares.
Pros & Cons of Implementing Both Fictional & Real Elements
On the positive side, the viewer has the opportunity to be entertained while also gaining some insight regarding the haunt industry.
Depending on the perspective of the viewer, this infrequently used stylistic choice could potentially be distracting, creating some issues.
If the viewer is unable to determine what is real and what is not, this may result in the formation of mostly negative opinions regarding the film as a whole.
Furthermore, the audience may want to discuss the factual elements of the film, regardless of their opinion of it, but will be unable to do so if they can’t differentiate between the real and the fake.
Ultimately, the support or disapproval of the individual viewer in regard to the film’s stylistic choice is what has and will continue to generate mixed opinions.
Pumpkin Rating & Conclusion
4 / 5 Pumpkins
For those who are particularly interested in what the haunt industry has to offer, The Houses October Built is definitely worth watching and may provide a disturbing degree of insight regarding industry insiders.
Having attended plenty of haunted attractions and related events throughout my life, I found this film to be particularly effective in making me acknowledge some realities that aren’t often discussed.
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The Houses October Built is currently available to watch on Netflix. “Siren Whore,” the first song of the credits, can be found on YouTube. Additional documentary footage can be found on the Blu-ray version.