Search This Blog

Full Body Review for Hell House - Original, First Part Full Movie [as seen on YouTube]

There are a lot of real-life documentary-type movies out there and usually, I don't recommend watching them since the constant movement of the camera tends to irritate me a lot. However, Hell House does the same thing differently and a lot better. For the uninitiated, this is your typical low-budget movie done in a handheld, camera-shot manner and still, it manages to impress. Just for records - I have not researched if Hell House [first of the three so far] is of the pseudo-genre of documentary that was used by the makers of The Poughkeepsie Tapes - I think believing that something like this happens for real, and can happen again, just adds more creepiness to the entire thing.

Doing 'The Poughkeepsie Tapes' but only a bit better!

The beginning of the movie is marked by the medical teams and investigators repeatedly mentioning YouTube videos and finding some lost footage - this sets the tone in a way. You realize that the movie is going to present itself in a non-Cinemascope manner and still, Hell House manages to hold your attention. It does so by not using too much music. It does it better by straight away jumping into the subject - the incident per se, without a big lead-up, which can be boring and predictable. I still rate The Poughkeepsie Tapes among the top contenders in this niche of horror moviemaking but Hell House [the original] has come close, dangerously close. It has a slower pace than the latter, and it does not try to interpret a reason or the doer. This one scene in The Poughkeepsie Tapes still remains in my mind where the cops uncover a truckload of VHS tapes that were used to record the torture and instantly it dawns on the viewer that this is not just about a serial killer, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is about someone who tortures and kills as regularly as we have supper. Now, to give some perspective, Hell House has more of these spooky scenes. The simple, close-up of the basement that comes up in the first few minutes of the movie is creepy - mind you, this is before the menacing footage even starts playing!

Performing the non-performance done right...

One more thing about the Hell House [first of the franchise] - the people in the footage, I am not sure if they are Actors, are closer to the real thing. They speak casually and clearly and even the swear words come through without any hesitation or effort. But the movie is far from perfect. For starters, there is too much low-light shooting across the length of the feature. You expect some scenes, I guess at least 30%, to be shot with some form of lighting at least? However, the makers chose to shoot the entire thing in low-lit, dull conditions where even the facial expressions are often hard to make out.

Some hints are always welcome!

At around 24:36 into watching it, blind spots around the property are mentioned that cannot be clearly recorded. This was good. You are slowly creating grounds for the mayhem to follow and for the fact [as per the town where this happened] that nobody really knew what happened for sure. A bit further and someone says, "...wanted all the sh*t documented" and that is heartening to know. You want it to be captured in some way so that you can view the monstrosity. A bit of perspective here. The footage that forms the meat of the visuals was shot in 2009 - as per the recording artists, and the quality of the footage makes you realize the same - this couldn't be the footage of something recent in the day & age of smartphones that are taking over the DSLR community. Another such shot clearly defines who will be the damsel in distress - this felt good too - it is good to have some hints when you are about to watch a lot of averagely shot video footage rather than a conventionally shot movie.

At 36:50, the first of the many, 'feels like something is wrong...' surfaces, and it is done well. Apparently, a silent scream was heard by the crew setting up the Hell House theme in an old, broken property. The guy who is introduced as the person to play the Clown looks like the part with a big, round frame, and a sedate persona. It is another thing that the guy also happens to be one of the survivors of the incident but later, commits suicide without any reason being established.

At 39:50, the first instance of the clown appearing not as it is intended to and you start expecting this part to happen more frequently, i.e. clowns or clown-like human figures appearing but these clowns are not the ones prepared as props or actors by the Hell House crew. I must say the first sighting is subtle, and even passive, but well executed. The open mouth and the bald head of the first scary clown complete the look. This is soon followed by multiple instances of prop-like clowns appearing in places they were never moved to or were not supposed to be found at - however, the one featuring a girl prop seated on the floor is perhaps the scariest. Again, without too much makeup or an emphasis on theatrics, the documentary style of the Hell House keeps things simple and tight, just like they should be in a horror movie that has no real story.

If you are still not clear about the main theory at work here - there is no central ghost theme. There are no rapists or chronically sick people murdering others while being dressed up as clowns. There is no clarity about what is going on. It is just that the town knows that something is messed up in this part of the world and they choose to keep quiet about it. It is like a combination of the supernatural elements along with the evil channeled via props that are used in Hell House and a large portion of the props is in the form of demented-looking clowns.

The big problem is the overuse of the handheld recording type of storytelling that has way too many blunt angles and turbulence. Hell House uses too much of the raw footage being presented as the movie you are watching. This lends more reality to the setting but largely, it is a bit of a turn-off too especially when you are not new to the documentary filmmaking horror genre. 

Now, quickly overviewing some reasons to watch Hell House - Part 1, Original:
  • raw footage-type storytelling that seems to be loved by many
  • no explanation of what is actually happening which adds to the curiosity 
  • no known faces as none of the actors are in the top league - unknown faces in horror movies boost the realness
  • a longing sense of creepiness that remains until the last shot
  • no typical horror genre culprits like lost souls, serial murderers who just won't die, some Japanese curse, or the manifestation of Satan himself
  • short duration - such type of storytelling cannot be tolerated for a long duration and The Hell House is finely edited to keep the duration short
Now, quickly overviewing some reasons not to watch The Hell House - First Part:
    • lack of defining the theme of the movie - why are the hellacious forces at work in that property?
    • too much of visually offsetting issues where the camera-shot footage is overused
    • lack of clarity in viewing the clowns - they appear in glimpses that undercut their presence
    • the all hell breaks lose angle is shortlived - not enough chaos and gore...just not enough!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Please Share Your Thoughts...

    Mental Health Battles, Confessions

    Opinions About Everything