Hell House LLC
Hell House LLC is a 2015 American found-footage horror film written and directed by Stephen Cognetti and produced by Fbi Films. The film, shot as a documentary, follows a group of Halloween haunted house creators as they prepare for the 2009 opening of their popular haunted attraction, Hell House. Tragedy strikes on opening night when an unknown "malfunction" causes the death of fifteen tour-goers and staff. The film reveals the lead-up to the tragedy and documenting what exactly went wrong that night which has been a mystery to the public. The film was released on a number of video on-demand platforms, including Amazon Video, Shudder, YouTube, Vudu, and iTunes, on November 1, 2016.
On October 8, 2009, Hell House LLC opened its doors to the public for their annual Halloween haunted tour, taking place outside of New York City for the first time in the small town of Abaddon in Rockland County, New York, just outside the city. The Hell House crew had picked the abandoned Abaddon Hotel for their haunt. By the following morning, fifteen tour-goers and staff were confirmed dead at the Hell House attraction. What happened during the opening night was unclear, and authorities only said an "unknown malfunction" occurred that night. It was produced as a "true story", but not all facts could be proven.
Five years later, a documentary crew led by producer Diane Graves decides to investigate the tragedy further. They interview people familiar with the case, including a journalist who had broken into the closed-off abandoned hotel a few years after the incident and snapped controversial photos that led people to believe something more mysterious happened that night than what had been made public. The documentary team lands a break when the only surviving member of the Hell House staff, Sara Havel, agrees to be interviewed and provides them with never-before-seen footage shot by the members of Hell House themselves leading up to the night of the tragedy.
The Hell House tapes start from there. They document the full Hell House crew (Alex, Sara, Mac, Tony, and Paul) and their arrival at the abandoned Abaddon Hotel, where they go to work on setting it up for their haunted attraction. As the days go on, unexplainable events begin to happen to the Hell House Crew. In a building escalation of paranormal events, Alex, the CEO of the company, is determined to press on and not allow his crew to be scared out of the hotel. Despite bitter disagreements between other members of Hell House, Alex convinces the group to stay and opening night goes on as planned. The footage reveals in eerie detail exactly how the tragedy took place and the paranormal forces behind the deaths of all fifteen tour-goers and staff.
In 2011, the film's executive producers asked for a script revolving around a haunted attraction gone wrong. After many rewrites, the script was locked by late 2013. Casting took place in New York City in February 2014, and production took place shortly after, in May. Initially, the filmmakers were in search of an abandoned house to shoot the film in, as the original script had the events taking place in a house. As early as 2012, the director had been visiting many abandoned buildings and homes, including two in the New York county where the story takes place, Rockland County. After not finding anything suitable, they instead began searching for real haunted house attractions to shoot in. They found the haunted attraction called the Haunting at the Waldorf Hotel in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, run by Angie Moyer, who served as the film's set designer. The script had to be changed in a few areas to reflect the change in setting.
After filming wrapped in Lehighton in May, the production then moved to New York City, where most of the interviews were filmed. In mid-June, filming was complete, and the movie went to post-production, where it would be edited for the next five months, before the first private screening of a rough cut would be seen in the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center.
After a few more rounds of re-cuts, the film was locked just before its first public screening at the Telluride Horror Show in October 2015. The film would also screen at Fear Fete Film Festival the same week, where it won the best paranormal film award. The worldwide distribution rights for Hell House LLC were acquired by Terror Films, with a North American VOD release date of November 1, 2016.
- Ryan Jennifer Jones as Sara Havel
- Danny Bellini as Alex Taylor
- Gore Abrams as Paul O'Keefe
- Jared Hacker as Tony Prescott
- Adam Schneider as Andrew McNamara
- Alice Bahlke as Diane Graves
- Phil Hess as Joey
- Lauren A Kennedy as Melissa
- Jeb Kreager as Martin Cliver
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives Hell House LLC a 89% positive rating based on nine critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.75/10. Dread Central gave the film a positive review, awarding it a score of 3.4/5. Found Footage Critic praised the cast, premise, and cinematography, giving the film a rating of 7.8 of 10. The Horror Society gave a score of 8.75 out of 10 and saying the mystery and suspense works for this film. Luke Rodriguez of Modern Horror was more critical of the film, saying that "it doesn't quite stick the landing", but otherwise enjoyed the film.
In an interview with Geeks of Doom Cognetti has stated that he sees the Hell House LLC trilogy as "one movie just divided into three acts and each movie is its own act". He further commented that he found it easy to write the second and third parts, as he knew "where I wanted to go with it from the get-go".
Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel
Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel was released on Shudder on September 20, 2018. The film's plot centers around a group of journalists who have gathered to explore the Abaddon Hotel, which has once again been abandoned following the events of the prior film. The movie further fleshes out the character of Andrew Tully, a character introduced in the first film, and his goal of opening a gate to hell. None of the journalists leave the abandoned hotel alive. The sole survivor found by the police is revealed to have been dead all along and sent out to intrigue people into visiting the hotel.
Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire
Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire was released as a Shudder exclusive on September 19, 2019. The film is styled as a documentary following Russell Wynn, a wealthy and mysterious entrepreneur who wants the Abaddon Hotel to serve as the location for an immersive theater experience called "Insomnia" based on Faust. Although aware of the location's history, he is keen to proceed with the venture despite others warning him of ongoing and frightening supernatural events. This prompts the documentary team to investigate Russell's past and the prior two events, uncovering new footage that implies Russell was involved with or was monitoring events. When opening night arrives chaos ensues, however Russell manages to wrestle Tully and overcome him before he can kill or take any other innocent lives. The following day one of the documentary crew muses that Russell was likely an angel sent back to defeat Tully and bring an end to his evil plans. Before the film ends, Russell manages to bring back the spirits of the original crew who died in the house, telling them that they are free from the evil but that the house still holds them captive.
Film School Rejects was critical of the movie, stating that it was "an ambitious stab at closing out a horror trilogy, but as much as that’s an accomplishment worth celebrating the end result is an unfortunate disappointment. Still, fans of the first two — or even the first one — might find some worthwhile closure in the final swan song of the Abaddon Hotel." The film currently holds a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews.
- "Hell House LLC Stalks One Man in the "Middle of the Night"". 28dayslateranalysis. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
- "Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel".
- "Hell House LLC (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
- "Hell House LLC (2016) – Dread Central". dreadcentral.com. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- "Hell House LLC (2016) Review – Found Footage Critic". foundfootagecritic.com. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- "Review: Hell House LLC (2016)". horrorsociety.com. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- Rodriguez, Luke (2016-11-01). "Hell House LLC [Review]". Modern Horrors. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
- "Interview: 'Hell House LLC' Trilogy Writer/Director Stephen Cognetti". Geeks of Doom. 2019-09-23. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
- "Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel". Shudder.
- Squires, John (2018-09-18). "'Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel' Will Exclusively Premiere on Shudder This Week!". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
- C, Luiz H. (2018-10-04). "[Review] 'Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel' is a Well-Intentioned Misstep". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
- Squires, John (2019-08-28). "[Teaser] Shudder's 'Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire' Brings the Franchise to an End This September". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
- "'Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire' Review: Hell's Final Days Are Its Least Interesting". Film School Rejects. 2019-09-19. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
- "HELL HOUSE LLC III: LAKE OF FIRE". Rotten Tomatoes.