Bobby Roe’s “The Houses October Built” was a solid Halloween entry that mixed a documentary with a horror mystery quite well. The follow up years later, practices the very same formula but further explores the back story of its villains “Blue Skeleton” from the first film. Are they evil? Are they anti-heroes? Are they a cult? Are they Halloween fanatics that work to the extremes of Banksy? The first film was a surprise indie horror hit and the sequel seeks to touch on the same narrative ebbs and flows, while also packing in some refreshing twists and turns that I very much appreciated. Like the first film, “The Houses October Built 2” is partly a documentary and partly a mystery horror film that takes off directly from the first film.
I’d have a hard time calling “The Houses October Built” a masterpiece, but I do think it has potential to become an ambience builder for future Halloween parties. I can see people playing this on a constant loop during the really adult and sinister festivities. While that may seem like a jab at the movie, I actually think that’s a compliment, as where “The Houses October Built” lacks in engaging characters, it makes up for in the Halloween mood and an interesting commentary on modern America and the general sentiment toward Halloween.
Written by Victor Mathieu, Shariya Lynn, and Corbin Billings, the film is directed by Victor Mathieu who takes a found footage approach to things, having the show within the movie and the action of the people behind the scenes all being in found footage style, for better or worse. The story here is one found footage fans are familiar with. A team goes into a building with the hopes of filming real monsters and interviewing them. In what looks like something very inspired by ghost hunters tv shows, the crew shoots themselves doing this in night vision on very shaky cam. The monsters here may or may not be real, something the film hopes to blur with its approach and how the characters are brought on.
I think most people go in to a movie that’s labeled a found footage anthology film might be expecting something like “VHS,” but directors Michael McQuown and Vincent J Guastini have so much more ambitious in mind. While the aforementioned horror film garnered a small assemblage of horror stories with a framework, “The Dark Tapes” tries to add more cogency. Everything in “The Dark Tapes” is cryptic and complex, and what we’re watching ends up making more sense the more we think about it. The directors obviously aspired to make a movie you have to watch more than once to understand. And of course they invite audiences to go to the movie’s website to perhaps convey their own theories about what the movie entails.
Dani arrives in California to visit her cousin for a month and have some fun away from her worries and her past. The two girls do fun tourist things and prank each other, until something goes wrong, very, very wrong. As things go from bad to worse, the film explores voodoo, the supernatural, and hell, all through a found footage lens. The story created by writer/director Tom Costabile has a lot of good ideas and some truly unnerving imagery and moments. The opening with the voodoo curse being put into place goes from interesting to freaky fairly fast. The film itself then takes a little bit to establish the two cousins and the other players around them (including an unnecessary but not annoying cameo by Ron Jeremy) until one pranks leads to all hell breaking loose.
It’s just such a travesty that Adam Wingard’s shot at the “Blair Witch” mythology flopped and has been generally derided by fans alike. I, for one, completely loved “Blair Witch,” not only for being such a unique and terrifying experience, but for the respect Adam Wingard has for the mythology. Even if you never bothered to watch those documentaries about Burkittsville, director Wingard brings everything full circle, including nods to the documentaries, the much derided sequel, and the original film. It’s a legacy sequel, but one that also acts as an impromptu book end to the whole series. After this I don’t know when we’ll ever see anything about the Blair Witch ever again, but it’s a great consolation the series goes out on this note.
A woman receives a VHS tape one morning from an anonymous source. After watching the video and its odd, violent animation, she is puzzled and feels like she is being haunted. She soon decides to look for answers. Directed by Richard Mansfield (and have no verifiable writing credits online to check who did what), the film takes the premise of a found tape leading to investigations by those who have found or received it and turn it into what can be described as mostly found footage with touches of first person POV and other filming styles. The story is fairly basic with just a few characters and works as a found footage mystery for most of the film. It uses many story telling techniques with varied degrees of success creating a film that feels disconnected in places.
A couple plans their next activity together: To kill a random stranger. As they plan, prep, and discuss the possible murder, they start to disagree on things and it becomes clear that one of them is very into the idea of murder while the other is not so much. Written by Nick McAnulty who co-directed with Brian Allan Stewart, this found footage film does a few things right such as casting two leads that are rather unfamiliar, a move reminiscent of Paranormal Activity, and it shoots in a clear manner, meaning that is happening and said can be clearly seen and heard which is something many film of the sub-genre do not pay enough attention to. This film shows what is happening and the emotions very clearly and it works in its favor as it brings the viewer in and let them get invested in the story.