★★★ of ★★★★★
A disappointing sequel to a randomly fun haunted house movie.
Directed by Stephen Cognetti
The original Hell House, LLC owes most of its positive reviews to low expectations; it’s surprisingly good if you go in thinking that it’s probably going to suck. Its successor, Hell House, LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel, suffers the opposite fate, with those that enjoyed the first film having higher expectations this time around that it, unfortunately, just can’t meet.
The sequel begins with the introduction of a missing man that had some sort of psychic connection with the hotel as a child, which could have been promising, but this turns out to be just one segment on a show called Morning Mysteries. The show is intentionally filmed in a campy way, with bright vibrant colors and cheese acting, but don’t worry, the serious acting moments don’t fare much better, with most scenes coming across as convincing as a junior high play. Being interviewed on the show Morning Mysteries are Mitchell, creator of the Hell House documentary and coworker of a missing journalist from the first film, Arnold Tasselman, a town official, and Brock, a smarmy psychic. Mitchell says that the place is dangerous which the show backs up by showing a collection of shaky cam clips of idiots that have gone missing after trespassing there. Tasselman asserts that people totally aren’t getting gobbled up by the spooky condemned hotel, despite the fact that the town is paying for round the clock police security.
The movie isn’t linear; it intercuts the interviews from the show with the plot proper, the exploring of the Abaddon by Mitchell and a team of reporters who received some insider information. Of course, all sorts of creepy things happen and their lives are put in jeopardy. While these portions of Hell House, LLC 2 have the most action, they are rather tedious, with everything the hotel throws at them being so overt. The creepy slow-build of escalating haunting phenomena was where the first one really shined. In this, the place is in full-swing horror ending pretty much after they cross the threshold. Several objects and characters from the first one make appearances, which is nice. The set looks the same, but you see a few things from different angles, giving it a kind of behind-the-scenes feel.
Any fan of Hell House, LLC will tell you that its third act is its weak point. It’s a lot of buildup for little payoff. Well, Hell House, LLC 2 is almost entirely third act. It goes for a few surprise revelations that don’t really pan out if you paid attention to the first film. It feels short, which is strange for such a mediocre flick. Maybe it felt that way because I wanted more of the fan theories that I’ve concocted to play out. Giving the creators their due, they did give us more of a lot of the things we wanted, but it seems like less was more.
At the writing of this article, it is available exclusively on streaming service Shudder.