Hell House LLC

Never mind how Hell House LLC compares with other found footage films. It's a nearly perfect horror movie, period.

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It's about a haunted house attraction put on in an abandoned hotel to cash in on Halloween. As the staff prepares the hotel, things take a sinister turn.

The film is essentially one long fairground ride. Characters are lightly drawn and the story is archetypal. But imagine a ghost train that actually wears down your suspension of disbelief until you feel uncomfortably frightened.

The structure of the fictional attraction - you queue, you enter, you get gradually more unnerved - mimics the structure of the plot. It's a stripped down version of the plot of any horror movie, arguably. But this is no Pirates of the Caribbean and that's down to the direction. No jump scares, just a visual conversation between death as fun and death as stalker, with the stalker gradually winning.

Despite its flaws, Hell House is not just another found footage film. It actually gets depth from an unexpected source - its festive, fairground ride structure. It reminds us that life is all one big party on the Titanic. I think we horror fans appreciate that message when it's as well-delivered as it is here.

Rewatching The Babadook

Rewatching The Babadook, it feels viscerally real, as if I've lived it.

It's the story of single mum Amelia and her son Samuel. Samuel's father died the night he was born and the family that remains is hopelessly haunted by this loss.

That loss eventually manifests through a mysterious children's book about an alarming character called the Babadook.

I'm sure there are plenty of families out there that have nothing particularly unmanageable in the cellar. But many do - I believe mine did - and this film is for us.

Often the short film that inspires a horror feature is actually better - Mama I'm looking at you. 

But the short film Monster that preceeded The Babadook shows how an archetypal scenario - which evokes little more than a powerful mood - can become more potent with the addition of specifics.

So potent that although the exact details of The Babadook don't apply to me, I still feel it's about me.

Anyone else?