Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hell House

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.

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