‘Hell House LLC’ is a found footage horror thriller directed by Stephen Cognetti. The enthralling story follows a documentary filmmaking crew as they seek to unearth the layers of the shocking history that surrounds the infamous “Hell House.” Captivating, nerve-racking, subtle, and criminally underrated, the film plunges its viewer into the chaotic darkness of a diabolical dungeon where mannequins come to life, and the undead emerge from the wall.
The found-footage narrative makes sure that the film looks convincingly real, but is the story itself rooted in reality? Can the ghost town of Abaddon be found on the map of the United States? If the film makes you ask questions like these, fret not, since we may be able to quench your curiosity. Let us explore whether ‘Hell House LLC’ is a rare horror film that is based upon true accounts. Possible spoilers ahead.
Is Hell House LLC Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Hell House LLC’ is not based on a true story. The story of the film revolves around the sinister site of Hell House, a spook house that turns out to be way spookier than intended, as it claims 15 innocent lives in a series of supernatural events. Situated in the fictional town of Abaddon, New York, the haunted house has previously been a hotel owned by one Andrew Tully, who reportedly committed suicide following the mysterious disappearance of a family or two that were last seen at Tully’s hotel.
In 2009, a group of five buys the property intending to make it into a haunt for Halloween, but little do they know, the house is already cursed. The present-day narrative begins five years after the inexplicable death of 15 at the Hell House on its inaugural night and traces back to the origin of the events that led to those deaths. We see some individuals being interviewed who provide an impressionistic account of the horror until the film crew gets hold of Sara Havel, the owner’s girlfriend, who provides some clips that may reveal further secrets. This also appears to be the brainchild of Stephen Cognetti.
As stated before, there is no township called Abaddon in New York. Abaddon is actually the name of the demon who guards the gates of hell, and in the Hebrew Bible, it is synonymous with a “bottomless pit,” which is the land of the undead. It is likely that the name has been deliberately used in the movie to give its sinister tale a proper setting. Neither is the Hell House real, although the sequences are shot at the Waldorf Hotel in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, which flaunts a local haunted house attraction called “The Haunting.” The site has been renovated from a ruinous hotel, just like in the film.
Is the Footage in Hell House LLC Real?
For those who have been baffled by the format of the film, the simple answer is no, the footage of ‘Hell House LLC’ is not actual footage depicting real supernatural incidents. However, the film gives a semblance of reality through its immaculate execution of the found-footage format. When coupled with the mockumentary style of storytelling, it becomes a tried-and-tested recipe of horror cinema. The found-footage genre of filmmaking creates an illusion of reality by claiming to present before the viewer actual video recordings of an incident.
These cinematic endeavors are characterized by their stripped-down production, shaky camera work, and naturalistic acting. For making the story more convincing, actors themselves are often given the task of filming. The found-footage horror genre was first exemplified by the 1980 film ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ by Gianfranco Clerici, but it captured mainstream attention with the release of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ in 1999. Since then, the trope has been a mainstay in the horror genre, showcased by popular films such as ‘Cloverfield,’ ‘Paranormal Activity,’ and ‘Trollhunter.’
To think of it, authors of horrific tales have tried to present them as true accounts since the beginning of the genre. When Horace Walpole, in 1764, published the very first supernatural English novel under the title of ‘The Castle of Otranto,’ he purported it to be a translation of a medieval Italian manuscript, rediscovered in the north of England. However, this was a well-crafted lie, conjured only to make the story more appealing. The found-footage subgenre reinstates this much-older obsession with the creation of a semblance of reality in tales of horror.
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