THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
The resulting film sits halfway between being a documentary and drama. This would normally push The Houses October Built into the Found Footage arena, which is where most of it lies. That said, as a Found Footage film, it has a looseness that feels like the actors are unrehearsed and not playing their parts according to a script. Their scenes feel more like the bonhomie of a group setting out to make an amateur documentary, while some of the vox pop interviews and ventures through the haunts are clearly the real article, not staged film. On the other hand, when the film does try to add narrative material the encounter with a spooky guy at a campsite, the performers from the haunts crowding around the RV the fact that Roe is trying to dramatically stage things becomes obvious.
The investigation is none too different from the sort that occurs in Found Footage films all the time. The difference is that there it is staged as part of the plot, while here you get the impression that the film is making much of it up as it goes along. The thesis that the group are investigating seems to involve them looking for evidence of almost anything that suggests a twisted tabloid headline or urban legend associated with a Halloween haunt of paedophiles being employed, that deaths/suicides occurred during the performance and nobody noticed, the real body parts have been used. You cannot help but think that if a real documentary crew set out in search of such stories, it would end up being an exercise in journalistic futility.
Later in the show, we get the introduction of the Blue Skeleton extreme haunt, which is where The Houses October Built starts to pick up a plot. It is also where the film crosses over into far more standard Found Footage territory. There is a certain sinisterness to the scenes of the group being followed by menacing clown figures, strange girls with porcelain doll masks and a figure in a bloodied bunny costume. The problem is the same one that other films set around Halloween haunted houses such as The Bates Haunting (2012) and 6 Degrees of Hell (2012) had and that is that the film has a difficulty differentiating between the theatrical effects that take place in the Halloween haunted houses and creating its own shock and suspense up on screen. The premise also suffers from a vagueness it keeps hinting there is something darker beneath the Halloween shows but it never says what it is and who the people shadowing the group are. Nevertheless, the film does finally kick in during the scenes when the group reach the Blue Skeleton location and are placed under hoods by sinister masked figures and in the final image of Brandy Schaefer buried alive with a camera in her coffin as soil is packed around her.
Bobby Roe and the same cast returned with a sequel The Houses October Built 2 (2017).