Believe it or not, I haven’t even heard of Hell House LLC (2015) until a couple of weeks ago. Therefore, I didn’t have any plan to review its sequel Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (doesn’t this title just roll up the thong?).
The first movie, written and directed by Stephen Cognetti who’s also responsible for the sequel, has quite a dedicated fanbase from what I could gather, which is the foremost reason why I gave it a shot, despite my usual indifference towards found-footage flicks.
Upon watching it for the first time, I must say Hell House LLC is quite a solid scary film, with its main strength being the ability to create suspense and genuine terror without relying on cheap jump-scares. However, it’s also a somewhat conventional and straightforward horror flick and, as such, it didn’t impress me a lot.
Speaking of Hell House LLC II (I’m not going to write the full title anymore in order to avoid any finger paralysis), fans of the original either were disappointed with it or thought it wasn’t as great as the first one.
What did I think? Well, I absolutely admired it but I’m not sure I liked it or even considered it good.
Let me elaborate on that, starting with the plot, which is quite convoluted, and I guess it wouldn’t make much sense had you not seen the original. Hell House LLC II centres eight years since the opening night tragedy of Hell House, LLC – which was the main focus in the first film – and still many unanswered questions remain. Thanks to an anonymous tip, investigative journalist Jessica Fox is convinced that the key evidence is hidden inside the abandoned Abaddon Hotel. She assembles a team equally hungry for answers with one goal: break into the hotel and discover the truth.
When I said I admired what Cognetti tried to do with this sequel, I meant that he tries to give more depth and to really delve into the mythology of supernatural occurrences. The filmmaker also improves the ‘mockumentary/documentary’ aspect of the story: on one hand, he chooses to intercut scenes that take place in the hotel with a TV programme where we get to see the legal consequences of what happened eight years prior. On the other hand, Cognetti put a lot of effort into making the footage look realistic: unlike 98% of found-footage movies, here what we see on camera feels genuine and unedited.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Yet, Hell House LLC II doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to be scarier than the first film: instead, this film focuses on the mystery aspect. However, the scenes inside the hotel can be very frightening due to the directing and presentation: the movie focuses more on the images than on sounds, which is both refreshing in the sub-genre and objectively more impactful.
Even though Hell House LLC II revolves around supernatural elements, the script doesn’t take the lazy route of not explaining everything by figuratively telling the audience ‘there are demons, things don’t need to make sense’. On the contrary, here everything can be explained within the movie’s universe, which makes me respect what Cognetti did even more.
Nonetheless, this film has far more flaws than the original. To begin with, the fact that the story is multi-layered causes the movie to be unevenly paced and rather confusing. In fact, the first 20 minutes are basically just a long, single exposition scene that connects first and second movie: that underlines the weakness of narrative and makes the movie not very watchable for people who haven’t seen the first one.
A good rule for remakes is that they need to have a bit of connection with the original, but at the same time should work as standalone movies. Hell House LLC II, as a movie onto its own, doesn’t really work.
Yet, the constant going back and forth between the TV programme, some interrogation sequences and the actual footage make for an experience that feels way longer than it actually is (only 89 minutes, end credits included).
Although the acting is overall better than in the first film, there are still a few highly annoying characters, especially one called Molly. She’s part of the crew that ventures into the Abaddon hotel and her nagging and screaming becomes unbearable quickly.
In conclusion, I think both movies – the original and its much anticipated sequel – are above par in comparison to most found-footage flicks and, for fans of the sub-genre, something not to be overlooked. However, from what I understood, Hell House LLC II is a let-down for die-hard fans of the original, therefore proceed with caution in checking it out.
Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel 6.5/10