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Film / Hell House LLC

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Hell House LLC is a 2015 indie Found Footage Mockumentary Horror film written and directed by Stephen Cognetti.

On October 8th, 2009, an unexplained malfunction at the haunted house attraction Hell House in upstate New York took the lives of fifteen people, including most of the staff. Authorities have discouraged any further investigation about what happened ever since. In 2014, a documentary crew goes back to Abaddon, New York looking for answers. What they find raises even more questions about what happened on Hell House's tragic opening night.

The film was followed by two sequels, Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel, which was released in 2018, and Hell House LLC 3, released in 2019. A fourth film, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor, which is set after the original trilogy but covers much of the backstory leading up to it, was released in 2023.

Hell House LLC provides examples of:

  • Agent Scully: Documentarian Diane Graves mocks her cameraman, Jonathan, for being afraid of some "g-g-g-g-ghosts!" before going to the hotel.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The footage from what happened in the Abaddon Hotel and as it turns out the whole film for the documentary crew.
  • Black Magic: Implied by drawings found in the basement and rumored to have taken place.
  • The Blank: The dark shapes that turn up in increasing frequency and attack Alex, Mac, Diane and Jonathan.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Sara Havel after being hit in the head repeatedly by a camera.
  • Camera Abuse: There are several points where the cameras suffer from static and disturbances and one is used as a weapon near the end.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Paul talks a lot about how much action he gets which is roundly denied by the rest of the Hell House crew.
  • The Cassandra:
    • Starts out as Paul, who as the man filming everything for posterity is the first to run into the really creepy stuff but gets dismissed because he has a reputation for goofing off.
    • Mitchell, one of the members of the documentary crew, ends up as this at the end when he sees footage of Sara's death, attempts to warn Diane and his call gets ignored.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When the crew's setting up the dummies in the basement, the crew discusses whether they should leave the blue-mouthed clown mask on a dummy which can't turn its head, or put it on a different, better dummy. They ultimately leave it where it is. So when the blue-mouthed clown turns its head to look at Paul when he turns away for a second, the audience knows something has gone very wrong.
  • Clueless Boss: Alex just wants to run a scary haunted house in upstate New York and constantly dismisses the increasingly valid concerns raised by everyone else.
  • Covers Always Lie: Sara Havel is as dead as the rest of the Hell House LLC staff.
  • Creepy Basement: Intended to be the exit and final room of Hell House and is where the mysterious accident happened on opening night. Comes complete with occult symbols already chalked into the walls and ancient Bibles all over the place. It's spooky enough that the reporter who breaks into Hell House gets his pictures by sticking the camera around the corner and taking the shot without looking. It's also where the first mannequins that move are first set up and where the rest of the crew finds Paul after he gets attacked in his room and disappears. It's also the only room where the security cameras do not work.
  • Damsel in Distress: Initially invoked, as Melissa is chained up in the basement and stripped down to her cut-open shirt and underwear to get this effect. Joey is placed in the basement to keep her safe from any patrons who might cause trouble. Played horrifyingly straight when things go really wrong on opening night.
  • Dead All Along: Sara Havel, the source of the found footage who also sends the documentary crew to the hotel after telling them the whole story.
  • Demonic Possession: Paul is strongly implied to be a victim of this after he gets attacked in his room.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Much of the film spends time building up the staff of Hell House LLC, showing them hanging out, messing around with the props and drinking in the hotel bar which makes their eventual fate even more terrifying.
  • Downer Ending: The film starts off with fifteen people, including most of the Hell House actors and crew, dying in an unknown malfunction five years before and goes downhill from there. The documentary interviewer and cameraman break into the Abaddon Hotel, find Sara waiting for them in Room 2C and suffer an unknown but presumably horrible fate.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Joey, the only survivor of what happened in the basement, is found dead in his room days after the disastrous opening night.
    • Andrew Tully, the former owner of the Abaddon Hotel, hanged himself in the hotel dining room three decades before the events of the film take place.
    • Paul cuts his own throat after attacking Sara with her camera.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Former owner of the Abaddon Hotel, Andrew Tully, commits suicide years before by hanging himself in the dining room. Alex is killed the same way in the attic.
    • Sara foreshadows the fact that she's been Dead All Along when she says that she's "in a better place".
    • "Why didn't you go to the police with the tape?" - "You'll see." Why, I wasn't too alive to begin with...
    • Paul makes it no secret that he is kind of a pervert and longs for female company at the Abaddon Hotel at night. When he is attacked and taken over by a demon in his room at night, it's in the form of a female mannequin in a night gown.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If Diane had watched the footage Sara gave them before breaking into the Abaddon Hotel she probably wouldn't have gone in the first place.
  • Found Footage Films: Consisting of a YouTube video uploaded by a Hell House patron on opening night, recovered footage from another patron, a leaked 911 call and video shot by one of the Hell House crew, Paul, for posterity, improving future attractions and use on Hell House's website.
  • From Bad to Worse: Everything starts going off the rails after the Hell House crew move into the creepy, abandoned Abaddon Hotel to set up the haunted house. The documentary crew also gets this from the moment Sara gives them the tapes.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: Mentioned offhand as one of the explanations given for what happened at Hell House which was discredited by a leaked 911 recording.
  • Government Conspiracy: The official explanation for what happened is it was some sort of tragic equipment malfunction. The emergency service personnel who were there are under strict gag orders, the only police officer who has spoken about it did so anonymously and the first official explanation is discredited when a 911 tape from inside Hell House gets leaked to the Internet. This is also subverted as they aren't trying that hard to keep people out of the hotel as a journalist, the documentary crew and later thrill-seekers seem to have no trouble getting in.
  • Haunted House: The Hell House crew are a haunted house company who have been operating out of New York City for years and come up to Abaddon to turn the hotel into one. They didn't count on the location actually having its own ghosts.
  • Hell Hotel: The Abaddon Hotel. It starts as a creepy, abandoned building that should've been condemned and is the subject of many urban legends. It gets worse after the Hell House crew move in and convert the place into a haunted house attraction culminating in the deaths of fifteen people on opening night.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The name of the town, and of the hotel, is Abaddon, who is the angel of the bottomless pit in the Book of Revelation.
  • In Medias Res: Begins with a shot of documentarian Diane Graves walking up to the Abaddon Hotel followed by her interviewing former Hell House crew member Sarah Havel years after the disastrous opening night that claimed a total of fifteen people's lives before diving into the tapes showing what happened and finishing with Diane and her cameraman entering the Hotel and never coming back out.
  • Inn of No Return: The Abaddon Hotel is rumored to be one. Before the events shown in the film local legend has it some people, including a mother and daughter, checked in and never checked out. Business dried up and the owner hanged himself in the hotel dining room. Sara later claims to be staying in a room that turns out to be in the Abaddon, leading to the documentary crew's demise.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The documentary crew and the reporter who broke into the Abaddon Hotel.
  • I See Dead People: Zig-zagged with Sara. She seems to be talking to something when she's found sleepwalking and is the first person to feel really unsettled by the whole situation but it's uncertain what's going on.
  • Jump Scare: Done very skillfully with stationary mannequins!
  • Leave the Camera Running: Happens twice, both times because the person previously holding the camera had dropped it after being attacked by the things in the Abaddon Hotel.
  • Malevolent Masked Mannequins: The mannequins used for Hell House are creepy as is. They get worse when they start moving.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Happens several times and many are Lampshaded with still images.
  • Mockumentary: The film is done in the style of a documentary with the bulk of it being Found Footage recording what happened during the lead-up to Hell House's opening night.
  • Monster Clown: Several creepy clown mannequins are used as part of the haunted house attraction to make it scarier. Then one of them starts moving around the hotel.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The town of Abaddon, allegedly named for one of the demons that guards the entrance to Hell.
  • Noodle Incident: To the town of Abaddon.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Much of the film runs on this. The worst of what takes place happens off-camera and many of the scares are very minimalistic in execution. Whatever happened in the basement is the best example as the most the viewer ever sees is the crowd stampeding out, mannequins moving on their own, the horrified screams of the actress chained up down there begging to be let out and bloodstains on the staircase. Additionally, apart from a few lines about unexplained deaths, a suicide, and possible cult activity, the movie never explains what is behind the attacks or why.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Paul comes across as this as he reacts very appropriately to being on the receiving end of several unexplained encounters in the hotel.
    • Tony comes around too and nearly walks off the project because of what happens in the basement before opening night, point-blank telling Alex Hell House isn't safe to open to the public.
    • Jonathan, the documentary cameraman, shows signs of this as well as he expresses growing fear once they break into the Abaddon Hotel, convinces Diane not to go into the basement and tries to stop her from going into Room 2C.
  • The Piano Player: One of the dummies is set up at the hotel's working piano. The chord progression Paul plays on it is repeated by the piano playing on its own as things start getting worse. Paul's chords play one last time just after Diane and Jonathan drop their camera.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Nobody actually dies until the opening night. The hotel wanted as many victims as possible, and any death before that time would probably have led to the canceling of the show.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why does Joey hang himself? Demonic Possession or Survivor Guilt? There is some evidence to support either of these.
  • Schmuck Bait: Even though the hotel has been closed down by the police since 2009 people have broken in to find out what happened including a photographer who takes some quick shots of the basement stairs. Sara dangles some juicy bait for Diane Graves at the end of her interview, enticing her to go to the hotel and see it for herself. Even then, it might have been alright had Diane not knocked on 2C...but Sara did give her the room number.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!:
    • In the YouTube footage at the start of the film a clown doing this is the first sign things are going wrong and is brushed off as an opening night slipup. He was the only person who saw what happened in the basement and survived and is found dead in his room shortly after.
    • Paul almost does this due to multiple increasingly creepy and unexplainable events happening in the Abaddon Hotel.
    • Tony, the electricity expert, nearly does before Mac lets him on an unspoken secret that convinces him to stay.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: Sara speaks slurred gibberish while sleepwalking- it's actually audio from her final interview scene played backwards.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: One attacks Paul in his room three nights before Hell House opens.
  • Tempting Fate: When Tony complains the clown masks are wasted on mannequins who can't move their heads.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Alex insisting that Hell House go ahead. At first the strange happenings can be dismissed as pranks but persisting on opening Hell House to the public after the dining room scene is when he really crosses the line.
    • Paul continuing to stay at the hotel after witnessing several unexplained and freaky events and openly stating he felt this place wasn't safe.
    • Averted with Mac and Tony who decide to stay based on something that Alex told Mac but we never find out what that was.
      • In a reddit thread discussing the film, the director explains that Alex had brought the company to the brink of financial ruin, and that if the haunt wasn’t successful, it would be closed for good. It eventually ended up on the cutting room floor, leaving it ambiguous, and in the event of a sequel, may not remain canonical.
      • Confirmed in the trailer for the sequel where Mac confronts Alex on completely bankrupting the company prior to the events of Hell House. Alex responds by saying they can use the abandoned Abaddon Hotel for a new haunt that will make all the money back.
    • Diane has shades of this. Her and her crew have footage of supernatural murders happening in the Abaddon Hotel, and she finds blood trails when she and her cameraman enter to check things out. Despite having a plethora of evidence that exploring the hotel won't end well, she drags her cameraman through the house to find supernatural phenomena. When she discovers Sarah facing away from her in room 2C despite the impossibility of her having gotten there, her reaction is to try to talk to her, which goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: The mystery and coverup of what happened to Hell House on the night of October 9th is what sets the plot in motion.
  • Urban Legends: There's a lot of stories about the Abaddon Hotel, its former owner Andrew Tully's suicide and other rumors about the place revealed by interviews with a local author and a photographer who got some pictures from inside of the hotel. One of the interview subjects argues it's very likely the Hell House crew knew nothing about any of them and Alex actively dismisses the story of Tully's suicide as a rumor.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties:
    • The official explanation for what happened.
    • The Hell House patrons initially think is going on when they see staff members running down the halls and away from the basement.
    • The Hell House crew experiences consistent problems with their walky talkies and on opening night they are completely useless.
    • The only part of the hotel the security cameras do not work is in the basement, forcing the crew to rely on having people with working walky talkies to know what's going on.


Video Example(s):


Hell House LLC

Hell House LLC is an indie Found Footage Mockumentary Horror film released in 2016 directly by Stephen Cognetti. On October 8th, 2009 an unexplained malfunction at the haunted house attraction Hell House in upstate New York took the lives of fifteen people, including most of the staff. Authorities have discouraged any further investigation about what happened ever since. In 2014 a documentary crew goes back to Abaddon, New York looking for answers. What they find raises even more questions about what happened on Hell House's tragic opening night.

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