Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is the fourth film in the franchise and attempts to explain the origins of the cursed Abbadon Hotel, which is mentioned quite often in the current film, and which was the subject of the previous three films. In the interest of giving a full disclaimer, this is the first film from the franchise that we are watching, and our opinion of it is simply based on the hour and a half of its runtime, without any comparison to the other films.
The mood of The Carmichael Manor is perfect, and the audience is as invested in the horrors of the house as others are. The jump scares were decent whenever they happened, and overall, the horror of the situation was extremely well constructed and communicated. Yet, there were times when it felt like the audience may have been taken for granted. The fact of the matter is that within the first ten minutes, we know the fate of the characters. That is what it means when we say the movie is in a ‘found footage’ style, that the recordings had to be found because the person in charge of them is either missing or dead. Therefore, when watching the film, the expectation is to get scared by the murderous ghosts haunting the house. We are extremely aware of the formula and are not debating it. But that still doesn’t mean that we don’t expect intelligence from the storyline.
The purpose of revealing the narrative of a movie in a ‘found footage’ style is to enhance the element of realism in it. It is a trick to make us believe that all of this is actually happening and, by extension, to make people curious as to whether this is a true story or not. It is not in this case, but our expectations were still let down. When can we ever see protagonists fighting intelligently for their survival? Margot, Rebecca, and Chase, the main characters of the film, come to know that they are living in an actual haunted house, and instead of getting out of there, they decide to find out more. It is as absurd as it sounds, and till the very end, we are only wondering why the tragedy was so unavoidable. They are in the middle of nowhere, but why is their common sense so lacking? Or perhaps that is a nonsensical question from us because horror movies would lose their plot if people acted with intelligence. Also, this movie is supposed to feel real because of the found footage style, which means that it is natural to see the people act with panic. Yet, we hate the fact that there wasn’t even an attempt to give us something different with the story.
Right off the bat, you will find the characters annoying. Again, we realize that horror movie characters usually are, but we still reserve the right to complain. Usually, such characters make the movie unwatchable, but in this particular genre, it is a little exciting because you know what is going to happen to them. However, you want them to survive because we are only seeing the worst of them, simply because they are in a terrible situation. On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that there are parts of the story that don’t completely add up. We get clues from the footage of the original family that lived in the house, and secondly, the narrators in the present day also add to it, but still, it is evident that many things are still very vague. But when we remember that there are three other movies in this franchise, we understand that it is a clever ruse to get them some viewers.
The thing is that The Carmichael Manor is a decent movie. It had to be if the franchise was popular enough to warrant four movies. And we will say it again that it felt very realistic, not just because of how it was shot but also because of the panic of the characters. However, it would have felt a lot more real if we had seen them bunking together out of fear rather than choosing ‘privacy’ or shouting out for help instead of simply continuing with the recording. Finally, when they were all so scared, why not just spend the rest of the night in the car rather than even trying to go back? It is the folly of these decisions that convinces us that this could not be a real story. Real people would have had far more sense. Also, something tells us that there are quite a few loopholes in the story. It is just a feeling we have, but the one we can point out for sure is that the ghosts were able to leave the house, yet, at the beginning of the film, when someone the girls meet on the way tells them he always partied in the backyard of the house, he never saw anything untoward. We can’t imagine bloodthirsty ghosts making exceptions for merry teenagers.
Another thing is that we would have liked to see some investigation done by the crew in the house, rather than it all being pieced together by their friends years later. It makes us wonder what the purpose of their being in the house was. If it was simply to get scared, then how was this a valuable addition to the franchise of Hell House LLC?
We understand that when we watch a horror movie, the principal objective is to get scared. The Carmichael Manor delivers on that front. But we have to question whether the horror would have been better if we knew what was going on instead of just being sprung upon by mindless ghosts. Wouldn’t it be far more scary when we know what is going on but are helpless to stop it for a variety of reasons? It just seems like this is the next step for horror movies. They have had enough haunted houses with satanic cults and surviving ghosts. We truly want something else now, and that can begin with some intelligent protagonists. If you just want to get scared, this is a good movie, but if you want a better story, then gladly skip this.