The Houses October Built follows 5 friends (this is a found footage flick filmed by the main characters Brandy, Zack, Bobby, Mikey, Jeff) on a road trip in the Southern US as they search for the most extreme haunted attractions and one in particular called Blue Skeleton which is so exclusive that it moves every year and participants must be personally invited.
The trip starts out full of drinks and fun times as the group heads to Texas and hits up the first haunt but they soon attract the attention of a group of scare performers they piss off and things start to get a little off kilter. As the trip continues the group has more unnerving encounters with clowns and performers from various haunts they visit. At one point the only woman in group Brandy is cornered in a restroom by 2 performers. It’s an uneasy scene as she pushes past the lecherous men and calls to her friends; no one wants to be in a situation that like.
So that happens followed by even more creepy and invasive clown stalking when the group finds a video posted online of them sleeping in their RV and someone walking silently among them, touching Brandy and then leaving. Again, this is a very unnerving situation and terribly violating. Eventually the group receives the invitation to the Blue Skeleton haunt and heads to the designated gathering spot, Bourbon Street in New Orléans on Halloween night. By this point two of the crew, Brandy and Mikey, are not into it anymore but reluctantly follow along ignoring their own apprehension.
The group is abducted, split up, left in a house with nothing but a camera and then each one is knocked unconscious. The ending shows 4 of the 5 (Jeff is apparently beaten, possibly killed in an alley in New Orléans) being buried alive or are they? The 3 men are in silk lined caskets while Brandy is in a wooden casket lying on top of what looks like bloodied meat. It appears that only her casket is actually being covered in dirt as the perspective shifts to show clowns burying Brandy and filming it. Finally they zoom in on one of the masked figures and it is unclear why or what is significant about that one. So a good base but not the greatest ending by leaving too much open-ended or up for interpretation unless I missed something.
Final Impressions: For the most part this was a good flick and it was quite enjoyable. One thing about haunted houses is the way they can make a person feel claustrophobic, walking through the dark with flashing lights and having no idea where you are going or how to get out and being purposely jump scared the whole time. What a horrible feeling of being trapped. You can kind of get that sense from this movie when they are going through the haunts and especially in the last scene. It was a good quality found footage flick with not too annoying shaky cam. Decent acting and a fun Halloween/spooky story line. There were a couple of things that threw it off a bit. As the flick nears the conclusion it somewhat falls into cliché as part of the group insists on continuing while the others hesitate but go along anyway and it ends badly as expected. And that is the other part that didn’t work – the end. It’s a personal preference to have the movie tie up and conclude without any questions (sometimes admittedly a cliff hanger works) but with this movie the ending was disappointing. That being said, it leaves the viewer to decide if the end is part of the haunt or really the end for these thrill seekers. The Houses October Built is a good start to the Halloween season. 3.5 clown masks out of 5.