Monday, October 30, 2023

Hell House LLC, Origins: The Carmichael Manor, on Shudder

Different house, same hell. All the scary stuff happening at the Abaddon Hotel was apparently related to the tragedy that occurred in this Rockland County mansion. Of course, a true crime podcaster decides it would be fun to stay there during her investigation. We can guess the results in screenwriter-director Stephen Cognetti’s not-exactly-a-prequel Hell House LLC, Origins: The Carmichael Manor, which premieres today on Shudder.

Margot Bentley is psyched to be staying in the Carmichael Manor, the scene of a notorious family killing in the late 1980s. Rebecca Vickers, her more responsible partner in life and true-crime, is less excited. Vickers also has her trepidations regarding Bentley’s fresh-out-of-rehab brother Chase, who will be her cameraman, but she will find him to be much reasonably cautious than his gung-ho sister, especially when things get weird, which they will.

Of course, Bentley immediately opens the storeroom the management agent told them should always remained locked, where they find two spectacularly creepy life-size clown mannequins—or were there three of them? Then they visit the local antique shop, where they discover some sinister memorabilia and documents that on closer inspection link the Carmichael Manor to the Abaddon Hotel, the site of the infamous mass murder and subsequent mysterious deaths, before it finally burned to the ground in the previous
Hell House LLC.

The connection between the Carmichaels and Abaddon is new to this film. However, what really freaks out some of the talking heads offering commentary in the “documentary” framing the “found footage” is the previously unknown connection between objects at the Carmichael Manor and the late Margot Bentley.

Even though we know from the start the tale will end badly for Team Bentley,
Origins is still impressively scary. Aspiring genre filmmakers should study Cognetti’s execution, because he really creates a lot of fear and tension through suggestion and shrewd editing. The ensemble also “blends-in” and “acts real” in ways that greatly heightens the realism, but whoever created those clowns deserves an MVP award.

It should be further noted
Origins requires no previous familiarity with prior films in the series. It stands alone quite effectively. Arguably, this is the best Shudder exclusive film since Satan’s Slave: Communion. Highly recommended for fans of the franchise and found footage in general, Hell House LLC, Origins: The Carmichael Manor starts streaming today (10/30) on Shudder.