Review: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2
Four years ago, Bobby Roe dropped his directorial debut onto the horror masses with The Houses October Built, and now (literally today) you can pick up the sequel from RLJE Entertainment. The Houses October Built 2 picks up not long after the original and we discover that despite the somewhat ambiguous ending of the first film, all five central characters survived the most extreme haunt in the United States. Now, the Blue Skeleton is back and it seems they weren't finished with what they started.
Plot breakdown isn't too necessary. The crew has gone viral and is being asked by haunts across the nation to come review their scare parks. Brandy, now dubbed "coffin girl" (you know, because she was BURIED in one), refuses to come along. After making a few appearances, the guys experience rabid cancellations as the thrill parks want Brandy, as she has become the main internet sensation. They eventually convince her to come along, promising not to subject her to any actual haunted houses, but instead exploring zombie runs, haunted hayrides and carnival like events. As their journey continues, signs of the Blue Skeleton start popping up.
Roe does a good job at making the movie feel bigger. By utilizing a drone, we get some truly big scale shots that make it truly feel like a popular Youtube blogging channel, fully stocked with tracking road shots and dub step backdrops. We get far less of the shaky cam perspective that's normally the go-to of the found footage genre and much more streamlined experience. It's the right move to make with a sequel, especially four years later, and while it's great to get away from the standard def dimly lit expectations of the genre, it also adversely brings the viewer out of the film. For a fifteen minute social media breakdown, it's great. For an hour and a half movie, it's sometimes jarring and detracts from the claustrophobia that the first film properly utilized.
It's difficult to buy in to the film fully because it literally starts by explaining that everything the Blue Skeleton did was just a facade, indeed just pushing fans to the utmost reaches of the extreme. It's admirable, though, how much love for the experience Roe showcases. The front half of the film is heavily stacked with a wide range of haunts and they're all represented with utmost respect, spotlighting not only the passion that the creators have but also exploring the idea of people searching to be scared. Roe manages to litter in just enough references to the masked entertainers from the first film that it keeps you wondering where the movie is taking us.
Throughout the film, Brandy (dutifully played by Brandy Schaefer) is harangued by her compatriots for not getting over being BURIED ALIVE in the first film, even though it was ultimately just a part of the scare. It paints them as pretty selfish and insensitive characters, sacrificing their friends wellbeing for their own fame and fortune, and it's a theme that's explored all the way into the final minutes of the movie. While the ending will leave many off put, it does do a good job at asking a question that has been asked more as of late: how far is too far? In a world where the scare experience has truly taken on a fully interactive life, with events like Bousman's The Tension Experience or the slasher callback Great Horror Campout, it has become something that more and more people have called into question. The Houses October Built 2 does a good job at taking a look at the razor thin line that most of these events try to ride, and explores at where these lines get fuzzy.
It's a little light on scares, and the conclusion is a little bit of a cop out, but it does a lovely job calling out a part of the fandom that is growing and presenting questions that need to be asked. Go check out The Houses October Built 2, available now.