The Houses October Built
|The Houses October Built|
|Directed by||Bobby Roe|
|Music by||Mark Binder|
The Houses October Built is a 2014 American found footage horror film and the directorial debut of Bobby Roe, who also starred in the movie. It was produced by Zack Andrews (who also starred) and Steven Schneider, whose hits include Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Devil Inside and M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit , Split and Glass. The film was given a limited theatrical release on October 10, 2014 and was released to home video on January 6, 2015. Filming partially took place at several haunted house attractions, which Roe would later include in a list of "America's Scariest Haunted Houses" that he released as marketing material for the film.
A sequel, The Houses October Built 2, also directed by Roe and reprising some of the original cast, was released in September 2017.
The film begins in medias res to a dazed and bloodied Brandy (Schaefer) being put in a truck and driven off. Days earlier, a group of friends from Ohio -- Brandy, her boyfriend Zack (Andrews), cameraman Jeff (Larson), Bobby (Roe), and Mikey (Roe) -- decide to take a trip south to visit some of America's scariest and extreme haunted house attractions in the days leading up to Halloween. They plan to record their experiences in the haunted houses as well as interview actors who work there. This leads to disturbing revelations about the establishments' operations, such as failure to perform background checks, utilizing criminals and disturbed individuals as actors, using real corpses and body parts as props, and performing increasingly dangerous stunts for the sake of scares.
The group begins with well-known haunted houses at first, though their main goal is to locate an extreme haunt called "Blue Skeleton," a mysterious group that moves to a different, secret location every year and is said to employ real torture to elicit scares. Zack in particular is determined to find Blue Skeleton, growing increasingly agitated with what he views as pedestrian scares of well-known haunts. The group also antagonizes haunted house staff by filming and being disruptive, but the staff's animosity grows sinister when they are followed to a different site by a clown from an earlier house, as well as a young actress from the same house appearing outside their RV despite the group having traveled over a hundred miles.
Bobby, Zack, and Brandy are later confronted by a staff member from another house accusing them of filming inside a prohibited establishment, although they had turned their cameras off; Jeff, going to the woods to urinate, is chased by a man dressed in a bunny costume brandishing an axe, though the man turns out to be an actor. Zack also meets other guests who inform him that they experienced Blue Skeleton, and that it is in Louisiana this year; they also tell him of a bar where they can find a man who can take them there. Later that night, an actor breaks into their van and films the group while they sleep, stroking Brandy's face. Bobby finds the video uploaded to haunted house forums, but Zack tells him to keep it a secret, as he does not want the rest of the group getting cold feet. A cow heart is also left inside their refrigerator. Brandy and Bobby grow reluctant to continue, but Zack insists they keep going.
At the bar, the group finds themselves surrounded by actors, and they are confronted about filming again. While Brandy is in the bathroom, the rest of the group goes outside to meet with the connection to Blue Skeleton. Meanwhile, two male actors take the abandoned camera and film themselves cornering Brandy in the bathroom, seriously unnerving her; but she manages to escape the bathroom. She tells the rest of the group what happened. They confront the two and reclaim the camera. Zack reassures her and the rest of the group that Blue Skeleton was what they had been waiting for. While preparing for bed, the group finds the RV surrounded by dozens of actors; one of them, walking on top of the RV, cuts the lights. After getting the lights back on, they find the actors gone. The next morning, they find a pumpkin outside of the RV with skeleton masks and instructions on how to meet with their next connection to Blue Skeleton.
The group arrives at the rendezvous point at a Halloween festival and look for another actor wearing the same mask. Though they spot one, they are ignored. In the commotion, Jeff is lured to an alley by an actor dressed as Mikey. He finds himself cornered by the clown, the young actress, and the actor in the bunny suit. Jeff is stabbed and has his tongue cut out while his phone is taken away. The rest of the group tries to call him, but only get a message telling them of another meetup location. Despite Brandy and Bobby's pleas, Zack drives there. They are approached by a bus and receive a text telling them to leave the RV or else Jeff will be killed. Zack complies, while the rest of the group is dragged out by attackers lurking in the RV. They are hooded and bound before being driven off in the bus. While the rest of the group panics, Zack insists it is still part of the Blue Skeleton experience.
The men are dragged out at one location, while Brandy is driven to a second location. She is given a camera and told to film everything she sees. The group members wander through their respective rooms. Zack, in a darkened room armed with nothing but a glowstick, is bludgeoned by an actor. The rest of the group are terrorized before being driven to a remote area and buried alive in coffins by the Blue Skeleton members.
- Brandy Schaefer as Brandy
- Zack Andrews as Zack
- Bobby Roe as Bobby
- Mikey Roe as Mikey
- Jeff Larson as Jeff
- Chloë-Charlotte Alexandra Crampton as Porcelain
- Angelica Leigh Van Horn as Porcelain
- Kahl Brice as Head Clown
- Donald Dantzler as Campfire Man
- Ian Roberts as Feaster Bunny
- Jim Tavaré as Splitz
- Robert Benjamin as Off Duty CLown
Critical reception for The Houses October Built has been mixed and the film currently holds a rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes,  Much of the film's praise centered upon its cast and characters, and Dread Central wrote that "The film’s characters are ridiculously natural, and their relationships and reactions are both fun and frightening." The Los Angeles Times said, "The Houses October Built proves one of the more successful attempts at the found-footage horror flick." The idea of going to Halloween haunted houses is looked at as original and Matt Donato remarked, "Despite sitting through an endless parade of found footage stinkers, every so often there's a movie like The Houses October Built that proves that the subgenre is far from dead." Criticism typically centered upon the film's pacing and what the critics saw as an overly predictable storyline, and Shock Till You Drop stated that "It’s unfortunate that the documentary aspect of this film wasn’t pursued more, because it certainly would have stood out against the modern day repetitive slasher that’s recycled every Halloween season. The Houses October Built offered a few uneasy moments and temporarily tackled some tough subjects about the operation of haunted houses, but ultimately failed to answer any of the questions it asked, or commit to one style of filmmaking." The U.S. Premiere was at the Telluride Horror Show and became the first movie to sell out the Sheridan Opera House. The UK premiere was held at The Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 27, 2015.
- Best Feature Length Film from the Midnight X-Treme Category from the Sitges Film Festival (2014, won)
- Best Actress Brandy Schaefer, Best Feature Poster, Best Screenplay Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Jason Zada from the Macabre Faire Film Festival (2015, won)
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- Mack, Andrew. "Check Out America's Scariest Haunts, Thanks To THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT". Twitch Film. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
- "THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
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- GENZLINGER, NEIL. "A horror tale with roots in Plano, 'The Houses October Built' takes awhile to get scary (C-)". Dallas News. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
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- "Awards". Retrieved August 1, 2015.