The creepy, lifelike clowns are back for the next installment of HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR. The story does not go to the Abaddon Hotel but unfolds nearby, in a home where gruesome murders occurred. There’s the overzealous paranormal investigator who overstays their welcome, putting the rest in peril. Yet viewers cannot look away. Using practical effects and eerie silences that maximize the slightest noise, HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR shows that horror movie sequels do not always give diminishing value even if their lead will irritate audiences beyond measure.

Written and directed by Stephen Cognetti, the film connects the Abaddon Hotel horrors with the Carmichael murders. Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta), an avid paranormal investigator, with her girlfriend, Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown), in tow, heads to the Carmichael Manor to spend five days looking for paranormal evidence and clues into the unsolved murders. Relayed after their deaths, it’s similar to many films in the genre where audiences know they do not survive but want to know the details.

The late arrival of Margot’s unreliable brother, Chase (James Liddell), winds up the least of their worries as the supernatural occurrences build. Found footage horror always has a magnificent layer of realism in its probability. When people film a video or take a photo, there’s that sliver of “is this my last moment” chill. While the ending feels a bit convoluted—another film tying into this would help—HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR is scary.

Send In the Clowns

The scariest moments in the Hell House LLC series are always the clowns. Here, it’s the same. In fact, this film is more of an origin story for the clowns. As with other Hell House entries, there is a slow reveal of the tie-in to previous films. These clowns are nightmare fuel, and anyone with a phobia or deep-seated terror of clowns should have a person or two to clutch while viewing. I’m terrified of clowns because there’s no guarantee of who lurks underneath that painted exterior. However, it’s a fright I adore in films, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a creepy clown. Stephen King’s It, the original, not the remake, is the last genuinely frightening paranormal clown.

Frustrations Override Terror at Times

Margot is as unsavory as the other in charge in the Hell House LLC series. Downplaying experiences, belittling, and emotionally manipulative, you curse her while screaming at Rebecca and Chase to flee. This isn’t even a matter of “trusting your gut.” There is no ‘is it’ or ‘isn’t it’ haunted. They know it is. Yet they allow Margot to convince them to stay one more night. Then, after they wake up and her brother is nowhere to be found, Margot guilts her girlfriend to wait while the sun is up. Police might be essentially worthless in real life and the realm of horror, but the fact that no one calls or drives to a station is nonsensical.

Chilling scenes amidst a dead quiet or crunchy forest backdrop notwithstanding, audiences might feel a powerful urge to throttle the characters. The irritation level is par with The Strangers: Prey at Night. Margot’s poor decisions are one thing, but a trio of characters unable to make choices for their survival frustrates beyond measure. Whatever haunts the Carmichael Manor would not have gotten Margot because I’d have taken her out. Kudos to the entire cast for making viewers give a damn in either the best or worst way.

Considering how many sequels this series has, the fact that HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR remains eerie, frustrating, and all-around entertaining is impressive. It does so much with little more than a house, cameras, and a red ball. Practical effects are the backbone, to me, for any horror. How can one be scared if it’s computer-generated with a green screen backdrop? HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR moves from the Abaddon Hotel but remains firmly in the lore, expanding the world physically and figuratively to deliver hair-raising discomfort.

HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR will premiere on Shudder on October 30, 2023.

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  1. This sequel/prequel blew me away. The building atmosphere and suspense was top level! Gosh I can’t wait to see where the story goes at the fairgrounds.

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