After starting off with the surprisingly effective original film, the Hell House LLC series has suffered from rapidly diminishing returns. Parts 2 and 3 were both bad enough that I was about ready to write the franchise off entirely, but my appreciation of the first installment meant I was still willing to give it one more try and I was pleasantly surprised by this fourth entry.
True crime podcaster Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta) convinces her girlfriend Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown) and brother Chase (James Liddell) to come with her as she investigates another old crime scene, this time an isolated mansion known as Carmichael Manor. Similar to the home in The Amityville Horror, this was the site of a brutal but suspicious murder decades earlier and is now rumored to be haunted. Margot has arranged with the current owners to be allowed to spend a week in the mansion in the hopes of learning something new about the crime and maybe, possibly capturing proof that ghosts are real in the process. As you’ve probably guessed, she winds up getting much more than she bargained for.
Stephen Cognetti returns as writer and director, seemingly having learned from the mistakes of parts 2 and 3 and reverting to the more straightforward found-footage thrills of the first movie. It isn’t quite as frightening as that one is, but it comes very close, making good use of the most memorable “villain” of the series (and mercifully ignoring its least interesting). The core cast do mostly good work, with only a few of the ancillary characters coming off as amateurish. Near the end the tension does flag a little, partially due to Cognetti’s need to fill in more of the franchise’s lore and explicitly tie the house to the hotel from the other movies, but it is able to recover before the finale. The twist at the end makes me worry that the Hell House LLC movies might try to adopt the sort of byzantine mythology the Saw series is known for, but this is otherwise a successfully chilling little movie, that should leave viewers cautiously checking around corners and behind closed doors. ★★★★
not rated. contains terror, bloody images, and some strong language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor