Here’s the thing. The state of modern horror is actually in pretty good health. And the found footage format isn’t one that necessarily has to feel like a cheap and lazy stylistic choice (just check out something like the fantastic Afflicted if you need proof). But you wouldn’t think that from watching The Houses October Built, which is yet another in a long line of lazy horror movies making use of people who can barely act well enough to convincingly play characters named after themselves. Let’s face it, if you can’t play a version of yourself onscreen then maybe you shouldn’t be given a starring role in a movie.
Thankfully, Bobby Roe hasn’t let that stop him from living his dream. Of course, he co-stars in a movie that he also co-wrote and directed so who is going to tell him that he’s probably not good enough for the material? Although, having just written that sentence, I now realise that I’m implying that the material is good enough to warrant a better cast. It’s not. And I want that clear from the very beginning.
The plot sees a bunch of people (Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson, Brandy Schaefer, and Zack Andrews, one of the other co-writers) driving around America in search of the most EXTREME haunted house experience. None of the characters are all that likable, which means that viewers are just killing time until the movie gets to the potential . . . . . . killing time. And I’m not saying that these people are bad people, they’re just stuck with a lame script that feels like it was cobbled together after Roe, Andrews and (third co-writer) Jason Zada spent a weekend with a copy of “Screenwriting 101” and decided that their documentary from a few years ago was crying out to be adapted into a horror movie void of any thrills or suspense. Or maybe they just had a load of extra footage from their 2011 outing that they didn’t want to go to waste.
The Houses October Built is the kind of horror movie so insultingly bad that I resent hitting a word limit while reviewing it. It’s the kind of film so inept and dismissive of the core audience that it could be just as easily reviewed with a string of expletives. There are jumps, of course, and the film may find a better reception amongst the most easily pleased viewers, but the only real reason for this film to exist is as an example to point to when people ask about the very worst traits of mainstream horror movies.
The Houses October Built screens at EIFF 2015 on 27th and 28th June.
DIRECTOR: BOBBY ROE
WRITER: BOBBY ROE, ZACK ANDREWS, JASON ZADA
STARS: BRANDY SCHAEFER, ZACK ANDREWS, BOBBY ROE, MIKEY ROE, JEFF LARSON
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX