Hell House LlC II: Lake of Fire forgets to scare while rounding things up.
Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire is the third installment of the Hell House LLC franchise. This third supernatural occult found footage film and mockumentary is the concluding finale to the scary trilogy. It clearly moves towards an epic ending to conclude all that has happened since the opening night of Hell House in 2009. Although it succeeds in wrapping things up in a nice and satisfying way, it unfortunately forgets to scare. While there are new props, a new interior design of the Abaddon Hotel, and some old friends pop up, it does feel a bit repetitive and the old footage from both previous films don’t help to create a new fresh and scary atmosphere. Nonetheless it is a nice ending to a great original and scary franchise.
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It’s been 9 years since the horrifying events at the opening of the haunted house Hell House attraction of the Abaddon Hotel and since then a lot of people have died there or went missing and were last seen in the hotel. Like the previous documentary crew of Jessica Fox. After all these incidents the hotel has been ordered to be demolished. But just before it could be teared down, a wealthy entrepreneur Russell Wynn has bought the hotel to serve as the stage of his interactive theater ‘Insomnia.’
He has invited the new host of Morning Mysteries, Vanessa Shepherd to film everything behind the scenes. She meets him, his crew and the actors who are all given a camera to record everything they want. But during the rehearsals, some strange things occur and Vanessa feels that something is not right and that the rumors about the hotel being haunted might be true after all.
Why you should watch it
While the first film Hell House LLC was all about the creepy atmosphere the carefully and subtly built up scares and really surreal creepiness, the second film Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel sets out the course for the expanding lore about the hotel. That delivers some more scares and an ending in which Andrew Tully, the hotel owner who formed a cult 30 years ago and killed himself and his cult and wanted to open a gateway to hell, showed himself and his plan. While this could have been a letdown for some, for explaining and revealing what the cause of the haunting really is, it also makes it unintentionally less scary. This is the beginning of the story arc that unfolds in this third film.
Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire is therefore a well-made end of a trilogy and wrap-up of a haunted house lore. While that part is very enjoyable and even digs into the magical surrealism of heaven and hell and angels and demons, it forgets to scare its audience along the way.
The interior of the hotel is changed due to the play ‘Insomnia’ that is about to be performed. A play that is appropriately about Faust who is seduced by Mephistopheles to sell his soul. Appropriate after we found out in the second film why Alex went to the Abaddon Hotel to create Hell House in the first place. That means different props to scare us, but luckily the clowns are still holding their ground in the basement to show up in the most effective ways.
But it also means that the whole vibe is different. It’s more a mystery of the hotel that is slowly unraveled and we see a lot of footage of the first two films embedded to recreate that feeling. But sadly that are the most scary parts of the film, scenes that we have already seen. While all this footage and some ‘new’ old footage connect all the three films together creating one big story, it can feel a bit easy and cheap. The first two parts of the film are all about the setup woking towards the ending. That means some little scares, but mostly talking and putting together the puzzle. The ending and the puzzle are well-crafted and do the franchise justice, but when the robed men come out to play, it does tend to feel a bit fake and over the top cheesy.
The cast that is put together, is a very diverse group, with sassy gay Harvey, stiff-upperlipper Jeff, and the charismatic Russell. The actors are a playful bunch, although sometimes a bit annoying. Strong and conscientious Vanessa and her cameraman Louie are recoding everything while Vanessa slowly starts sensing that something is not quite right and wants to actively do something about it. But what happens next is a big twist that even she didn’t expect.
This would haven been a great ending if they only paid more attention to the scares. It’s not scary at all. All scares feel like a repetition and not fresh or original and you see them coming miles away. And for a found footage horror that is a missed opportunity.
My favorite part
I really was excited when they still had the clowns, they’re great fun, although not as scary as they used to be. You even get used to a scary clown so it seems. Still the characters were what made the footage come to life, just like the previous films. It was all very natural and realistic and playful and Vanessa was a very likable character as was Harvey who brought some spice into it.
Although the ending didn’t look that good, and felt fake at times, the idea to wrap it up as they did was a good one and original.
Scare factor: ★★☆☆☆
Originality factor: ★★★☆☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆
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Cast and crew
Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire is directed and written by Stephen Cognetti. It stars Elizabeth Vermilyea (Vanessa Shepherd), Gabriel Chytry (Russell Wynn), Sam Kazzi (Jeff Stone), Scott Richey (Harvey), Theodore Bouloukos (Robert Lyons), Brian David Tracy (Andrew Tully), Bridgid Abras (Jane), Leo DeFriend (Gregory), Jordan Kaplan (Max), Dan Dobransky (Father Paulis) and Joe Bandelli (Louie).
Duration: 85 minutes. Cinematography: Carlos Garcia de Dios. Edited by: Brad Geiszler, Jon Shearburn. Produced by: Joe Bandelli. Production company: Cognetti Films. Distributed by: Terror Films.