A very entertaining found-footage film, The Houses October Built is about a Halloween trek by five friends to find the ultimate scary attraction. As the group travels from haunt to haunt, they begin to encounter stranger & scarier elements of the whole haunted attraction biz.
Needless to say, the five should have stayed home, watched a couple of videos & gorged on fun-size candybars.
HMPod was lucky enough to run into filmmakers & actors Bobby Roe & Zack Andrews before they were gutted & hung upside-down as a display. The Houses October Built opens in theatres, is on VOD & iTunes October 10.
HMPod: What was the genesis of The Houses October Built? How did the team come about? Where did the idea come from?
Bobby: Everyone loves to watch scary movies in the month of October, but not too many are actually about the holiday of Halloween. And the list goes to zero if we are talking about nonsupernatural, actual Halloween haunted houses.
Zack: So we wanted to set a film in this world. Bobby went to film school with Jeff [Larson], and he looked at horror movies in a similar way that we did, so he joined in creating the story.
HMPod: Was it ever going to be an actual documentary?
Zack: Not for an entire movie. We are narrative filmmakers first. The “documentary style” that we chose to use allowed us an authenticity that we felt served the story. But we always knew we wanted it to be feature.
Bobby: The original movie is even more documentary-style. More interviews of haunt workers and spending a little more time in their world. It’s a slower burn, so we made the version that is being released more commercial. I think both films work and have an audience.
HMPod: So why are haunted house attractions so popular, particularly in the U.S.? Why do people want to be frightened?
Zack: There’s something about that adrenaline. Sex and violence just gets us going as a species. One is pleasurable (hopefully) and in the other one… well, you are purposely making yourself vulnerable to having a negative feeling. Maybe that’s it. Opening yourself up in both those situations is being vulnerable.
Bobby: They are actually becoming international now as well.
HMPod: When questions are being asked of haunted house employees, were those real employees?
Zack: Yes, everyone was real. We shot at real places and used real haunt workers. That was important to us to separate us from other films in this genre.
HMPod: Was there any confusion between haunt employees & the actors (i.e. Porcelain)?
Bobby: No, because those actors were real haunt workers. Why hire an actor when these scare actors have perfected their characters for years.
HMPod: Did you really travel to different attractions?
Bobby: We put some miles on that RV. We covered all of Texas and Louisiana hopping from haunt to haunt.
HMPod: On a found-footage movie such as this, how much of a script have you got? How much of the dialogue is ad-libbed?
Zack: Bobby, Jeff and I mapped out a story and had significant plot points that we needed to get to and then had the different characters’ personalities and motivations. We wrote out a script and the beginning and end were the parts that didn’t change a whole lot.
Bobby: But for the middle of the movie, we would call audibles and create new scenes as we went along. Brandy [Schaefer] and Mikey [Roe] were great actors in staying in character and going with the flow.
HMPod: Looks like you’ve got a good way of working together. What’s next for you guys?
Bobby: Thanks, I feel we have a yin and yang relationship. We are actually very different and I think that’s important with a business partner. Have the same goals, but add different values to a project. We would love to expand the haunt world. There is a lot of mythology in the movie and we feel there are still more stories to tell.
Zack: It’s also fun looking at other people’s scripts and thinking about what Bobby and I as a filmmaking team can bring to the table.