Review: The Houses October Built (EIFF)


Screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Directed by Bobby Roe

Starring Bobby Roe, Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson

A group of friends go on a road trip to investigate America’s haunted house attractions, but in their search for the elusive ‘Blue Skeleton’ house are they getting in too deep…?

The Houses October Built reeks of being a failed documentary that has been turned into a found footage spookfest out of desperation, which is a great pity as within this terrible film there lies the germ of a good idea.

The rise of Hallowe’en ‘haunts’, commercial haunted house attractions that aim to provide punters with a gentle scare could make for either an intriguing documentary or an engrossing scary drama—such attractions date back to the original monster movie boom sparked by re-issues of the 1930s Dracula and Frankenstein films.

The Houses October Built is neither of those things, unfortunately. Instead, we get a lazy amalgam of both ideas that simply doesn’t work. The news items and talking head interviews cut into the ‘found footage’ is interesting, but the running around in the dark screaming ‘What is going on?’ becomes tiresome after the first half hour then throughly off-putting as the film builds to what it clearly hoped would be a The Wicker Man-style shock ending. The possible exploration of ‘extreme haunts’ is a great narrative hook, but it is throughly squandered here.

Performances—even with the participants supposedly playing themselves—are risible throughout, and the scares are non-existent. Instead, The Houses October Built is a noisy mess that’s not worth your time.

Verdict: Avoid at all costs, 1/10

Brian J. Robb

For further details visit Edinburgh International Film Festival


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