I actually found director and writer Bobby Roe’s The Houses October Built 2 overall impressive of how it improves from the previous film from 2014, especially showing (spoiler) that the cast didn’t die in the clutches of the Blue Skeleton’s extreme haunt experience. Although the storyline continues in the same path of exploring the extreme haunted houses, the reason satisfies simply for greed and fame, something everyone can understand and compel them to partake in the adventure. The film uses the technique of found footage, but gives the reason of being paid to attend these events and developing a new show for the mass media. Roe discovered a new twisted path in these ‘Extreme Haunts’ those unfamiliar with the term, simply pushing the limits of scaring to new depths, less of mere walkthroughs, more touching, nudity and simulated death, all to heighten one’s own physical/psychological abuse, designed to have one piss themselves to others delight. Yes, sick and demented, but each new generation strives for a way to shock themselves to depths, what worked in 70s truly has no effect on today’s audience. Nowadays, and the film shows some bits of the celebration of the season and the communities that draws folks out with zombie pub-crawls, eating contests (one features real star Takeru Kobayashi), and mud-runs. The Houses October Built 2 never truly analyzes the effects that of terrifying experiences, for that discover Roe’s The Houses October Built (2011) documentary on the 30-million plus people visiting haunted establishments.
These haunts have profoundly grown from the mere 21 which existed in 2013, to at least 35, in fact that same year, producer Melina Smith and co-producer Matthew Blauvelt, who also served as directors of Redroom Experience, a first person documentary of extreme kidnapping (of women only) throwing them into psychological terrorizing reality scare trip into hell and perhaps back. I mention this because the similar aspect plays out in this sequel with the character Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) or as she’s fondly becomes known as ‘coffin girl’.
Picking up a few years after the events of the first film, finds Bobby (Bobby Roe), Mikey (Mikey Roe), Zack (Zack Andrews), and Jeff (Jeff Larson) enjoying their newfound fame as the filmmakers, begin touring the haunts in RV, but missing one key person, Brandy, who without her participation likely to doom the greedy trip. They survived the meeting with the cryptic Blue Skeleton, became viral stars but early in their travels begin to hear about a place called Hellbent and how it’s the ultra extreme haunted attraction. Bobby and Zack convince her to make a few appearances while the group explores some scarier locations, their antics become increasingly funnier, and using a drone to advance the found footage experimental with nice landscape shots. She does an odd interview with a sociologist, but gets double the money of everyone else, showing her greed versus fear. When the Blue Skeleton shows up their style and technique appear a bit like The Walking Dead’s Saviors, making for an interesting conclusion to the movie, prepping everyone for the big reveal.
However, a major portion of the movie was spent at real haunted houses, watching freak shows (interest subculture attraction) and then following along in Halloween mazes, pathways, but the problems quickly develop these scares work in first person. They succeed by being in the moment not conveying through the screen, there’s a separation, for visitor versus viewer. Nevertheless, those familiar with this concept know it’s the elements in these films layer with the ick and humor.
As for the overall concept, more of the same, the angles switched, along with better editing and audio to shift the tempo, and give at times a funhouse viewing, with less herky-jerky camera movements famous in the found footage market. The walkthroughs as previously mentioned limited some appeal, but the flying drone helps a little bit.
This is a smarter, meaner, cooler film than the original, and thanks to the distribution by RLJ Entertainment and wide-web promotion assisted by Terror Threads for marketing materials. A fun time watching the stalking behaviors of Blue Skeleton, their familiar skull masks and the eerie doll-faced Porcelain (played by Chloë Crampton), all leaves the exit door open and unlocked for a sequel. The Blu-ray includes some crisp visuals and the music video Halloween Spooks directed also by Roe and generates solid entertainment, but like to see more about Blue Skeleton how they torture, scare and why they really do what they do it.
IMDb Rating: 4.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.8/10