The Houses October Built 2 Blu-ray Review

A Necessary Sequel That Finishes Off the First

Every October around the country, dozens of haunted house attractions temporarily pop up to frighten customers with a variety of scary effects and spooky happenings. Most of the time they are harmless fun but rumors exist of more dangerous haunted houses willing to do anything in their mission to scare customers. You just have to know where to look around the country and follow the clues to find them. It’s an intriguing premise with lots of potential for a horror movie.

In 2014, filmmaker Bobby Roe and a group of friends made The Houses October Built around that premise. What if a few of these attractions offered more than cheap Halloween thrills and were willing to do anything? If you enjoyed that movie’s mixture of found-footage scares and its mostly likable amateur cast, The Houses October Built 2 is the sequel that attempts to go back to the well once again with similar frights and a nearly identical concept. The movies are tightly linked in structure and it doesn’t make much sense to watch this sequel unless you’ve seen the first movie.

It is interesting seeing the amateur creativity of local horror fans across the country

This sequel picks up directly from the ending of The Houses October Built, jumping ahead one year in time and eventually reuniting the five friends featured in it. Central character Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) returns, having narrowly survived being buried alive in a coffin on live streaming video, seen at the end of the first movie. Now known as Coffin Girl, the Blue Skeleton video of her experience went viral and has made her a cult celebrity. Freaked out by her narrow escape from death, she has sworn off haunted houses for good. Her friends Zack (Zack Andrews), Mikey, Bobby and Jeff talk her into going back on the haunted house circuit, hoping to cash-in on her new-found fame. No one wants just the four male friends, they want the notorious Coffin Girl making appearances at their haunted houses.

Heading back on the road in their familiar RV, the five friends soon encounter clues pointing to the return of the mysterious Blue Skeleton, a group that believes in taking the haunted house experience to the extreme. Blue Skeleton were the sinister crew that kidnapped Brandy in the first film and buried her alive. Their intimidating presence lurks in the background as the friends travel the country, visiting such locations as Scream Town and Paranoia Quest. The friends pick up whispers of a place called Hellbent, supposedly the most extreme haunted house willing to do anything for a scare.

If the first movie didn’t do anything for you, this similar sequel won’t impress you. Breathlessly marketed as a movie from the producer of Insidious and Paranormal Activity, this sequel largely rehashes the formula used in The Houses October Built. There is a certain raw quality to its footage of local haunted house frights that a regular horror movie usually misses, intimately capturing locals dressed and made up as frightening creatures. It is interesting seeing the amateur creativity of local horror fans across the country and some of the haunted houses look like a great deal of adult fun. The faux documentary style works in its own stilted manner, though once again the weakest element in the movie is the pedestrian dialogue.

The Houses October Built 2 has its charms as a found-footage horror movie with an interesting premise, even if everything feels like a carbon copy from the first movie.

Video

The Houses October Built 2 has been shot on a variety of digital cameras and looks substantially identical to its predecessor on Blu-ray. From crystal-clear footage shot on the RV, to the grainy digital video of the haunted houses taken with very little available light, it’s the typical mixed-bag of most found-footage movies. The 101-minute main feature is encoded in adequate AVC on a BD-25. Compression is not an issue with this release. A hint of banding in a few shots isn’t enough to distract from the encode’s visual integrity.

All things considered, the 1080P video has impressive resolution for this fare and a few spectacular sequences that look incredible. In fact, parts of the movie may look too nice for what is supposed to fundamentally be a horror film. The reality show sheen to the video comes off as glossy and occasionally vibrant.

The swings in clarity are steep. The haunted house footage from across the country has much lower visible detail, taken on inferior digital cameras and shrouded in darkness. There is nothing technically wrong with it and comes as the filmmakers intended.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack has fairly crisp and dynamic audio for what is purportedly an amateur video recording. The dialogue passages are clean and intelligible, even in the crude footage taken at haunted houses. This doesn’t have the extreme sound design of some horror flicks, but generally offers aggressive audio that attempts to grab the listener’s attention. Bass levels are tightly integrated into the soundstage and the music score is smoothly incorporated across the entire room.

Optional English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles appear in a white font.

Extras

The first film in the series was originally a Best Buy exclusive on Blu-ray. The Houses October Built 2’s Blu-ray gets a wide release from Image/RLJE Entertainment. A nicely textured slipcover is available on first pressings.

The special features are somewhat skimpy here for the sequel with little substance. It’s recommended you hunt down the Blu-ray for the first movie’s special features if you want an in-depth exploration of the series by its cast and crew.

Deleted Scenes (07:21 in HD) – Four deleted scenes from the film play in order. There isn’t anything revelatory in this material that screams should have been included.

The Uncut Projection Video (04:54 in HD) – This is the full-length video that plays near the climax of the film, revealing what has really been going on in the plot to one of the central characters. Give it a watch after you have seen the movie, because it has major spoilers.

“Halloween Spooks” Music Video (04:02 in HD)

Portrait of a Scare Actor 2 (06:43 in HD) – The featurette is a compilation of behind-the-scenes shots set to Halloween music.

Image Trailers – The company’s trailers for Wolf Creek 2 (01:34 in HD), A Christmas Horror Story (01:54 in HD), and Some Kind of Hate (01:59 in HD) play before the main menu.

The unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 12 The Houses October Built 2 screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 9,000+ already in our library), exclusive UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.