Author note: A few spoilers are ahead.
We’re back in the Hell House universe again, folks. It’s been some time since the third entry in the Hell House franchise. The last time we were in the Hell House universe, people were being murdered in the Abbadon hotel as well as around the property and the very rich Russell Wynn (Gabriel Chytry) defeated demonic cult leader Andrew Tully (Brian David Tracy) in the basement, destroying the hotel in the process. Ultimately, that act reversed the deaths and set the previous victims free from Tully’s hellish grasp. Instead of simply going back to the haunted house that scares the hell (ha, get it?) out of viewers, we are thrust into a haunted manor, that inevitably connects to the Abbadon hotel, with new characters.
Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor follows what leads up to the deaths of Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta), her girlfriend Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown) and Margot’s brother Chase (James Liddell) as they stayed in the Carmichael Manor, the home of a decades long cold case involving the brutal murders of the Carmichaels. There’s no question about whether or not the manor is haunted. The characters realize very quickly that it is and stay much longer than they should. The documentary that occurs throughout the film reveals all sorts of backstory, whether it be for our new set of characters like Margot, or the Carmichael family.
Due to the franchise being found footage, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor comes across as incredibly authentic and raw. The idea of being under the mercy (or lack thereof) of uncontrollable forces is part of what makes a haunting so scary. But even with that, Margot ignores the red flags and the pleas from Rebecca and Chase. Her pursuit of answers is what gets all three of them killed. The flawed nature of her character plays into the tragedy of it all. If Rebecca had stayed home instead of embarking on this journey, she would still be alive. As would Chase. It makes for some frustrating moments because sticking around for that is the least ideal thing to do.
The film doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before in found footage horror. We get the occasional jump scare, creepy things in the background, cars not starting up, stumbling around in the woods to no avail, and so on. However, that doesn’t stop Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor from being engaging. As the scares and startling revelations unfold on screen, it only makes the ending more heartbreaking. Nobody makes it out alive, it’s just a matter of Margot, Rebecca, and Chase’s final nights and how they die. Trust and believe me when I say, nobody goes lightly.
Margot and Rebecca being a queer interracial couple is different than what we typically get. Normally it would be a white straight-passing couple that we’re forced to follow. So Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor switches it up for us. Throughout this fourth entry, we flip back and forth between the timelines. We get glimpses from the ‘80s and what led up to the tragedy at the Carmichael manor. Considering the film focuses on the origins, it only makes sense. Knowing that terror has been experienced by multiple people because of Andrew Tully and the Abbadon hotel’s influence is horrible. It goes against what people perceive in terms of evil. Sometimes there’s no escaping it and occasionally destiny plays a vital role.
Overall, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is for the fans of this franchise. This film is much better than the second entry and doesn’t have as many characters to follow as the third. And there is queer (the other films have featured explicitly queer characters) as well as Black representation. So if all of those aspects sound compelling to you, you’ll enjoy it tremendously. But if you’re looking for a found footage horror film that’s aggressively different from others, you might not. I personally enjoyed it and found it to be quite scary throughout (especially upon seeing those clowns again).
You can catch the film on Shudder on October 30 aka Hallows (or Halloween) Eve. I highly recommend it to my fellow horror ghouls.
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