Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Hell House LLC

7 of 7 viewers "Liked" "Hell House LLC" (2015, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Math Mage - "An unusually good reason for staying in the haunted house: you're building a haunted house." - 3 Stars

Dabbles - "I was so scared, I almost peed my pants. I love found footage, but I hate ghosts and scares, so Hell House LLC pretty much made my anxiety go through the roof. I had fun watching this movie, even though I don't have fun being scared." - 5 Stars

Book Wyrm - "Very new take on a horror movie about haunts. I just wanted it to end so my anxiety would go away. The ending was a bit ambiguous but it didn't leave me feeling cheated. I don't know how they all managed to live there for so long. I would've been out the second the clown moved." - 4 Stars

The Great Hornito - "A great found footage film that used many different types of media. Very effective scares and a great story. I would recommend this to anybody." - 5 Stars

Huntress - "This movie 100% worked for me. It starts off with documentary style interviews about a haunted house mysteriously gone awry and the crew responsible for putting it together, but then shifts seamlessly into an increasingly eerie hotel’s transformation into the annual Hell House. This second portion of the movie took me back to when I would go through haunted houses at a much younger age, scream the whole time, and have a hard time walking by any human looking figure for fear that it would animate and grab me. This fear was recreated multiple times throughout Hell House LLC, with so much intensity that I felt like I was back in one of those terrifying haunts from my childhood. There was a weird moment or two in the script, but not even a dangling red herring takes away from this story. I just love how organically the tension grew in that maze like building, and how naturally the scares were empowered by it." - 5 Stars

Lord Battle - "Hell House LLC is prime example of why I love found footage films; it's a blend of two different types of documentary film, it's believable and ridiculous in the same breath, it's brilliantly acted in ad lib/real chemistry way that's so important to found footage, and ultimately it's just plain scary. There is a moment in Hell House LLC where a character hides under the covers and I don't mean proverbial covers, I mean literal bed sheets. As an audience member I remember thinking; "What adult would really do that?" yet as I was thinking that I had instinctively raised my hand up to cover not only my eyes but my face... This isn't a perfect film by any critic's standard but it's interesting, entertaining, and very effective. A perfect film in my book." - 5 Stars

Trash - "This film's biggest strength is actually being scary. It does that by refusing to hold back the scares for the sake of realism; often found footage horror stays too small so that it can keep that guise of "this could have happened, you could have shot it". When you're having fun, believability doesn't matter, and this movie is devoted to fun. A great location, and a premise that might be familiar, but hasn't really been done with this level of panache. In fact, you'll have so much fun, you'll barely notice a lot of the sloppiness till you're analyzing it later. - 3.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

I've struggled with writing this wrap up for a while now and I apologize for being so candid but I just can't seem to find an elegant, yet simple approach to the subject I actually want to talk about... So I'm just going to throw it out there, the fucking clown. The clown mannequin always seems to be the first topic of discussion after screening Hell House LLC and for good reason, since he is definitely at the center of a few genuinely good scares. But why is this clown so scary? Is it because all clowns are just scary?

 I remember when I was in high school (early 2000's), Hot Topic started selling this shirt that stated "Can't sleep, clowns will eat me" over and over in a shrinking font. Everyone seemed to have this shirt and I was just confused by this. I always thought clowns were scary only to little kids and that was really just a stranger danger thing happening. I mean that's what the idiots tweeting as clowns hiding in the woods was about right?

This is a cruel joke but definitely aimed at kids, just look at the comments on the police Facebook response.

I guess the only clowns that scare adults are in ICP... Anyway none of this is helpful in explaining why the clown in Hell House LLC is terrifying, so what is actually scary about this scene? I believe we are experiencing the Uncanny Valley effect:

In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers. Valley denotes a dip in the human observer's affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica's human likeness. The concept was identified by the robotics professor Masahiro Mori.

Mori's original hypothesis states that as the appearance of a robot is made more human, some observers' emotional response to the robot become increasingly positive and empathic, until it reaches a point beyond which the response quickly becomes strong revulsion. However, as the robot's appearance continues to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once again and approaches human-to-human empathy levels.

This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely human" and "fully human" entity is the uncanny valley. The name captures the idea that an almost human-looking robot seems overly "strange" to some human beings, produces a feeling of uncanniness, and thus fail to evoke the empathic response required for productive human–robot interaction.

Our repulsion in this situation comes from seeing what I assume audiences thought was a man. Then discovering it was a dummy with the knowledge that the clown turned its head which is something the mannequin was incapable of. Also clowns are a kind of perfect uncanny valley conduit, as their makeup allows for enough exposure to identify them as human but the actual face paint usually displays a false emotion of happiness. And even if you don't buy any of this I think we can all agree that Gore Abrams sold the hell out of that scare!

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on 6/22/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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