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Movie Review: “HELL HOUSE LLC” Takes Us Back To The Start With “ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR”

Tuesday, October 31, 2023 | Reviews


Starring Bridget Rose Perrotta, Destiny Leilani Brown, James Liddell
Written and Directed by Stephen Cognetti
Terror Films | Shudder Exclusive

That rare horror franchise where every entry is directed by the original creator, Hell House LLC has been providing reliable found-footage scares since the first film’s release in 2015. Entitled HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR, Stephen Cognetti’s fourth film is available to stream now exclusively on Shudder as of Halloween Eve. With a cohesive mythology that fans of the franchise are sure to appreciate, and plenty of eye-hidingly tense moments of clown-fronted horror to satisfy even the most seasoned found-footage fans, Cognetti proves that Hell House LLC will have no problem outliving the firey destruction of the Abbadon Hotel.

Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta) wishes she never step foot in Carmichael Manor…

Creatively framed as a home movie within a paranormal investigation within a true crime mockumentary, ORIGINS tracks the deaths of vlogger Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta), her brother Chase (James Liddell), and her girlfriend Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown). Footage of their final days is presented in doc-form by Margot’s surviving co-producers, whose talking heads provide narration, context, and foreshadowing. The deepest layer – a film reel found by Margot and Co. – depicts the exploits of the Carmichael family in the 1980s. 

After uncovering the dark secrets of the Carmichael family murders and suspect disappearance of the father and son, Margot, Chase and Rebecca are haunted by the victimized Carmichael daughter and terrorized by the occult entity that possesses the clown mannequins from the Abaddon Hotel. As the trio soon discovers, one of the missing Carmiachel men was once an employee at the Abaddon Hotel and became indoctrinated into the satanic cult responsible for the demonic presence. 

Full of clear connections to the lore of the previous three Hell House LLC films, ORIGINS delivers the goods by revealing the genesis of the franchise’s signature creepy clowns. ORIGINS even implies that its protagonist was fated to encounter the entity behind Hell House, after it is revealed that cult members attempted to abduct her from a county fair as a child. In addition to the prequel elements of the film, ORIGINS is also effective as a stand-alone found-footage tale, with more than a few deeply unnerving sequences that wind through the haunted halls of Carmichael Manor. 

ORIGINS’ cross-temporal narrative is well served by Hell House LLC’s mixed-media approach to the found footage genre, and by intercutting between Margot and the Carmichaels’ footage the film maintains a high level of tension and intrigue. Despite the occasional stiff acting and lower production value associated with low-budget found-footage, ORIGINS is the best Hell House film since the original. And even after almost a decade, those now iconic clowns still pack a punch. 

HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS: THE CARMICHAEL MANOR is available now to stream on Shudder.


Grace Detwiler
Grace Detwiler (@finalgirlgrace) is a freelance film journalist and law student. Her original work can be found on her blog, FinalGirlGrace, as well as in Rue Morgue's print and online publications.