Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hell House

Hell House, a documentary by George Ratliff, is a film about a haunted house put on every year by the Trinity Church. It’s goal is to scare sinners into believing in God for fear of going to Hell. Ratliff uses several techniques which change the dynamic of the documentary. One of the first techniques I noticed was the use of lighting in the first seen as one of the leaders of the church explains how it is the church’s responsibility to scare non-Christians of hell by using the haunted house. As the leader, a Christian, speaks, the background is bright white, and almost looks angelic. Also, at the end of part one, several yound adults talk about what they believe hell to be like. You can immediately tell these were Christians explaining what they thought because of the background and lighting. They are personified in this way as “Godly.” Lighting is also used in this documentary

Another technique in the documentary is the clips of all the people in the community coming together to be a part of Hell House. The people seem very eager and excited about the haunted house, and you can see just how many people attend Hell House. This technique makes the viewer realize the importance of the community. If a new church were to attempt to make a haunted house such as Hell House, I believe their community would be angered or the people of the church even offended. However, perhaps the reason Hell House still exists is the huge community involved with the actually project of the Haunted House. It may make the church feel like they are a part of helping convert non-believers, instead of focusing on the reality of the extremes they are going to get their message across at the risk of offending others.


  1. In the documentary Hell House, a Christian church puts on a "haunted house" thats goal is to turn non believers and sinners to a Christian way of life. In order to persuade the patrons the church uses a number of techniques. One of the techniques used was lighting. Whenever the scene involves heaven or god, the lighting is bright and white to give off a positive and warm feeling. When it switches over to hell and the devil, the lighting tends to be red or dark giving an eerie negative feeling to the audience and it is as if they're trying to scare them. There are many times in the film where they show the religious rituals that they practice and the strong bond that the church members share. By doing so, I feel they were trying to show how much the church does for them and how much it means in their lives. It is a way to exemplify what they could be getting out of their lives. Another technique used was having the topics of their haunted house be touchy subjects such as abortion and homosexuality. By using these topics, they were trying to get across that by disobeying what they bible says, you are going against God's word and therefore, unless you ask for forgiveness you will go to hell. All of the techniques used were meant to put fear in the non believers and persuade them to make a life change.

  2. The documentary Hell House follows the Trinity Church in the making of their annual haunted house during the Halloween season. The attraction intends to show various scenarios that are meant to scare the people who walk through into taking on the Christian way of life. It protrays scenes of domestic violence, rape, drunk driving accidents, hedonism, and even Hell. Both old and young members of Trinity Church enjoy and take much pride in their haunted house. The documentary shows the vast amount of planning and detailed practice that they do to put everything together. The mood of the entire documentary is eerie and a little disturbing, with the juxtuposing themes of extreme Christianity attempting to display the extreme evils of the world. The documentary shows how some people preach their faith but do not always live it. They claim that more people convert because of this, but is this statement true and is fear a valid reason for converting? This entire approach seems a little unethical to me.

  3. Dominique Shepherd says...

    Hell House is a documentary that showcases the process a church went through from beginning to end while building a hunted house. The documentary is made in favor of the church and the message that they are trying to force onto the viewers. The film is very bias and there are very few times when they actually show opposition the what they are trying to do. There were many techniques that were used in this film.
    One of the first techniques that I noticed right at the beginning is that when people are talking about religion and God in general they are shown in a background that is all right. Further enforcing the message that the viewers should "step into the light" or convert into their religion. Also when they show the church scenes, where all of the people are together worshiping, they make it seem as if the church has kind of a cult feel to it. That they seem genuine but at the same time a little insane. To me the film seemed less bias and more real, like these are how these people believe and think and they do not find anything wrong with what they are doing, in fact they believe they are helping others in a way.
    The most interesting part of the film is the way the film was documented and how George Ratliff he was not really apart of the film and he let Trinity Church and its members take center stage. Forcing us to solely focus on them and their lives. He even gave us personal insight on many of the members of the church especially the man who child had seizures.
    The film itself was ethical, it portrayed the people in my opinion as realistic as possible, but at the same time I personally do not believe that the actions of the people were ethical in creating this place called Hell House.