Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Hell House is a documentary filmed by George Ratliff, telling about a Christian churches’ haunted house that teaches about making the right decisions and either going to heaven or hell. Im surprised about the use of only natural light. No artificial light was used in the film. If the scene being shot was outside in the dark, the scene was dark and no camera light was used to brighten faces. This helped bring more realism to the film. It made the film feel like a home movie being shot from the inside; it gave a backstage experience. Also the different scenes he added helped really bring out the true meaning behind the documentary. For example, the scene of the man trying to get the people into the room to pray helps the viewers to understand the main point behind the Hell House.
Also the filmmaker’s choice to show each the scene of the Hell House helped the viewer to understand what the people going through the house actually saw. The taped scenes of the Hell House were filmed in a way of close shots, eye level and different angles to capture all of the commotion in each scene. This put the audience in the Hell House with the rest of the tour group.
The filmmaker’s decision to add the scene of the teenager arguing with the man about faith and what was portrayed in the Hell House helps illustrate that not everyone that sees the house agrees with what is being shown. It helps depict another view that may help the viewing audience, that doesn’t agree with the Hell House, better understand why that church is putting on the house.
Ratliff’s decision to add different scenes even the more explicit ones helps illustrate the truth behind the church’s decision for the house; as well as demonstrating the firm belief of all the church people who make Hell House, that they are doing the right thing and helping to spread their belief in God.
Hell House is a documentary about the fear mongering tactics used by one church to “save” their community. A group of believers, led by their pastor, sets up an annual haunted house around Halloween that highlights contemporary moral and religious problems to convince local teenagers of their dangers. Though the message the church is sending is indeed troubling, the most disturbing part of the film is the way the documentarian makes the viewers feel as if they are actually a part of the process. This is done first in the beginning, in which the film is introduced by the pastor instead of the director. This makes it seem as if the following scenes and story are the idea of the church instead of the documentarian. Viewers feel as if they are in the church with these characters, planning and building a haunted house, instead of watching a film that is meant to inform them. The lack of presence of the documentarian leaves viewers to come to their own conclusions, without feeling the bias of an outside source. The following connection formed with the people of “Hell House” is strange and unappealing. This is also what makes the film effective, because its apparent lack of bias makes viewers feel as if they are deciding on their own that this is a disturbing message.
Hell house was documented in a very interesting way that I have not experienced before in a documentary. The most intriguing aspect of the way the film was documented is how George Ratliff made it seem as if he were not there and that these people in the video were just living their lives like they would any other day. There were many scenes he filmed that were personal that most documentarians would not bother to do. One of the many times that Ratliff filmed personal footage was in the homes of the church people. This surprised me a lot because talking about religion and homosexuality is personal enough but to go into someone’s home and film their children being put in bed and eating is somewhat extreme. Also with the close ups and camera views being detailed it was very weird to see these people being filmed very close but not being spoken to by the documentarian.There were many more scenes that seemed a little too personal to be filming such as at work, school, and at church. Without talking or letting his presents be known, Ratliff seemed to me as more of a creep rather than a documentarian filming.
The only time the viewer is shown a point of view opposite of that of the church is when a group of teenagers goes through and states how they were offended by the scene where the man with AIDS dies. They are automatically pulled into an argument with a very religious man, and the police officer who works with the church comes out to intervene, and tries to convince the teens that with God, the things that they witnessed will not happen. It was shocking to see how blind the Trinity Church members seem to be to other points of view.