Mike Iacobucci (mikey_iaco) wrote in topfive_reviews,
Mike Iacobucci

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Movie Review -- Hell House (2001)

We all know the haunted house/haunted trail establishments that come around every Halloween. They're tacky for the most part, and will only actually scare little kids. They're simply a form of entertainment, something to bring the spirit of Halloween more to life. Maybe something new will be scary upon another visit to a haunted house. That's where Hell House comes into play. Hell House is a haunted house run by the Trinity Assembly of God Church every year. The theme to this haunted house is every room deals with people who have committed a certain sin. The organization running Hell House selects sins they believe people are committing and are doomed to go to hell if they do not change their ways.

The documentary takes no biased view of the organization or the house. George Ratliff includes several guests' comments on their visit to Hell House. Plenty have bad things to say about what the organization is doing, and plenty have good to say. The establishment is quite controversial, with deeply pious people finding the house dark, yet truthful and necessary. On the other hand, the non-religious people are just as vocal about their opinion that Hell House is nothing more than evangelical people looking for ways to make a profit and not actually teach anything. The feedback from both sides of the argument felt equal, but that also depends on how deeply you stand for some of the controversial issues Hell House argues. I, for one, don't think that just because a girl goes to a rave, she will get raped. I also certainly don't think that she is always at blame for it, just like when her father abused her when she was a little girl.

The hardest part of watching Hell House is understanding that it's not propoganda for the haunted house. The first couple times watching this documentary, that's exactly how I felt. I was engrossed in the bizarre beliefs and theories the church was teaching the young kids. Just because you take the morning after pill doesn't mean you are guaranteed to continuously bleed for days. Not all the kids take Hell House completely seriously, in fact plenty of kids are shown laughing at the actors. I would join them, too, if I ever went. After a couple more times watching, I was able to understand that all Ratliff really does is show what happens at Hell House, and it's completely up to how the viewer wants to interpret it.

Tags: documentaries, movies

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