The Houses October Built, 2014
A found footage and footage uploaded to YouTube by the Blue Skeleton underground haunted house club on Halloween’s eve-film; that scares the tricking and treating out of the viewer, albeit motile.
Bobby Roe directs and acts in this horror flick where a bunch of Old Friends hire a luxurious RV and take off on a road trip across America, camping near and visiting the various haunted houses they stumble upon during their ride through the back-country, visiting privately owned houses with some truly horrific scares.
It works better as a documentary than a film where the odd, distraught bunch, led by an obsessive Jeff and his fanatical, and all-consuming nature is adamant to find the real deal; it works better than found footage. Anyway.
After bumping into some really formidable characters and snuff-like scenes (in quick edits) and haunts that include an axe-man running after Jeff with intentions of killing him – “What the fuck, this isn’t even a haunted house!” – we see someone who is so rum, uncanny, spooky, fucking shit my pants unnatural and eerie that it makes even the Giant Clown look like a circus freak. That bit is the best part of the film.
After interviewing locals the Blair Witch style, they finally get educated in extreme haunts and it makes Mikey hypersalivate.
When things get really ugly (and I mean, you-gee-el-why UGLY), – “Fuck this man, let’s go home” – Jeff and his Old Friends get directions from two strangers to a haunt in New Orleans, some part of it that even the locals do not know the name of. When they arrive there, something rattles the RV and our Old Friends find themselves a pumpkin lying outside their truck. I’m not telling anymore from the plot.
Built is full of wasted potential and POV shots that should have worked even more in scaring; should have. Not that it fails but there’s something known as tolerance and I recently watched The Human Centipede III, 2015. So… yeah.
I loved the atmosphere, the insides of the dilapidated structures and Amityville looking houses, the costumes excess, the solemnity and the gravitas of the haunts, the group doubting themselves and the intentions of Jeff the nerd and being filmed in blue hue while everyone is asleep (something like The Lost Highway, 1997 and the Cache, 2005 tapes; among other shit defying stuff.
The film’s deliberate pacing and slow build-up (to the real fucking deal) and the high predictability is under rug swept with a film that succeeds in its impactful and with the highly uneasy undercurrent of doom-direction. The film was received well by the critics and the movie-goers, both.
The film ends without an explanation or closure, except for a trunk of a car – being shut. It does not resolve the situation the writers have created for themselves and the doomed team of Old… Yup. Promotional media for part II says that the ending of part 1 was only an intermission. Fair enough but this ain’t no Pulp Fiction and there isn’t even The Wolf here to help the boys with sweeping it all away after the trunk has been unlatched.
All said and done, Built is frightening, atmospheric, full of shock till you drop jumps, and above all it brings something entirely new to the found footage slasher genre by way of it’s execution and the mental state of the Old Friends; goodness.