Houses October Built, available on VOD and iTunes now, is an interesting spin on Halloween and the “found footage” style of horror filmmaking. The movie follows a group of friends on a road trip in an RV as they travel across the country to underground haunts looking for a really scary Halloween experience. As the trip begins to come to a close, encounters from earlier on the adventure rear their head and the group discovers that the haunt may have come to them.
It’s a solid premise for a horror film, especially around Halloween, but what is even more interesting is the blend of actual found footage and the scripted material. Houses October Built, in addition to being a scary Halloween flick, also dives a little deeper into the real life subculture of the independent haunt. When you go to Six Flags or Universal Studios, there are rules, and no matter how intense things might get, you know there’s a corporate structure behind it. What about the haunts that don’t play by the rules? We visited Raymond Hill Mortuary in Pasadena, CA to speak with the team who created the film to ask them about the process and what makes people want to seek out getting scared anyway?
The first question I had to ask seemed like a basic one: why would adults pay money, and often times a lot of money, to have the experience of being physically and emotionally scared for an extended period of time? According to director Bobby Roe, it might have something to do with nostalgia. Said Roe, “I think it makes you feel like a kid again. I think that’s been the main thing that we’ve seen, I mean even adults, people who are 30 years old and they dress up again and it’s not just about, I think it’s more of a creative thing. I think it makes you feel 12 years old but the fact is that when you’re 12 years old, that was enough for you to trick-or-treat or go to JC’s haunted house or the charity haunted house and now as an adult you want it upped a notch. Now they’ve gone back to the touching or the spitting blood, they’ve really upped their game, and I think that a lot of places that we see that have upped their game the most are the places without the big budgets. Not your Universal Studios, not your Knott’s Scary Farm, it’s the Ma and Pa’s in Georgia, Texas that really have to up their game because they don’t have the budget for giant animatronics so they get really, really creative.”
Co-writer and actor Zack Andrews continued, “It’s like riding a roller coaster. Why would you do that? Potentially putting yourself into some kind of harms way but the adrenaline, it’s a chemical. We actually found out that when you have sex or when you get scared it’s the same chemical released in your brain so you just get addicted to that and you’ve got to find that in some way. If it’s not a roller coaster, it’s a haunted house.”
When things take a turn and previous haunt encounters appear to have returned for the friends, one of the villains in question is a clown. A terrifying, scary clown. With American Horror Story currently making us uncomfortable on a weekly basis with Twisty the Clown, what is it about those guys that are so damn scary? Roe suggested,”To me, one of the scariest characters in all of horror is Pennywise from Stephen King’s It, so I think a lot of that, we wanted to make sure to touch on everyone’s fear as much as we could so whether it’s clowns to claustrophobia to anything – anything goes. And the real part of it is, why would we even pay an actor to learn a role when these scare actors have perfected it year after year and that’s why we wanted to use all real places, all real people, and hopefully it gives a little more organic feel than a lot of these other movies that put us in the same category.”
Houses October Built, written by Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe and Jason Zada, directed by Bobby Roe and stars Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson. It is available on VOD and iTunes now!