As I said in my review of the first Hell House LLC movie, I came to this series very recently after pointedly ignoring it for some time, thinking it was just another generic found footage "investigation into a scary house goes terribly wrong" movie - and how very wrong I was. Part of the reason I finally got around to watching the first movie was hearing that a sequel was coming out, so after having the pants scared off me with the first movie, I then moved on to the second - Hell House LLC 2: the Abbadon Hotel. But will the sequel managed to be as horrifying as the first one, or did it use up all its scares already?
Set in 2017, it's been eight years since the events at the Hell House set up in the Abbadon Hotel caused the deaths of 15 people, and later the disappearance of documentary filmmaker Diane Graves, and both the film and the hotel have become urban legends of a sort, with thrillseekers regularly breaking into the hotel (and never coming out again) despite a police presence and morning news shows doing segments on the phenomenon. Investigative journalist Jessica Fox decides to do an investigation into the hotel and its deadly history after receiving a transcript from an unknown source and manages to persuade Mitchell Cavanaugh, the only surviving member of the 2014 documentary team, to accompany them into the hotel. Once inside, however, they discover not only more mysterious tapes that reveal more about the dark history of the Abbadon Hotel, but also that there might have been more to the events at the Hell House than had previously been known. Unfortunately, they also find themselves trapped in the hotel as well, as the dark forces there have plans for them that go beyond just terrifying and tormenting them...
For his 1961 horror film Homicidal, director William Castle created a promotional gimmick he called the "Fright Break", wherein audience members too afraid to watch to the end of the film had a 45-second window before the film's climax to leave the cinema and receive a full refund. After having to pause the movie about two-thirds of the way through again to go into the other room to calm down and pet the cat, I'd like to propose that we bring the "Fright Break" back, if only for the sake of my blood pressure and digestive system. Yes, I was slightly dubious as to whether The Abbadon Hotel could be as seriously unnerving as the first film, but after only 15 minutes my fears were assuaged - or intensified, depending on how you look at it. I'm not ashamed to admit that the sight of just a pair of legs standing halfway up a flight of stairs and doing nothing else managed to make me watch through my fingers for the remainder of the scene, or that even though I knew that Huggy the Evil Eyeless Clown (I started calling him Huggy in an attempt to make him less scary. It didn't work) would inevitably make an appearance, I still cringed in my seat when he did. In fact, I'm happy that The Abbadon Hotel continued in this series tradition of scaring the living daylights out of me because before I discovered the Hell House LLC movies I'd almost given up hope that I'd be scared by anything but jump scares (which don't count) in horror ever again.
The plot is, again, the weakest part of the whole movie, feeling a little bit hokey with its 80s Satanic cult meeting in the hotel and performing sacrifices for their own ulterior ends, but since the plot is really just the basic structure that the film hangs its atmosphere, scares and generally very unnerving air on, that doesn't really matter too much. I did spot one potential plot hole in the claim that the entire cult all committed suicide in the hotel's dining room, when in the previous film we saw just owner Andrew Tully hanging there, but since this film did finally explain what secret Alex had been keeping from the rest of his crew from the first film and we're apparently getting another film after this, I will remain optimistic that everything will eventually be explained (and if not, it's hardly that important anyway). Some of the plot twists are, again, a little too obvious - I know I didn't trust the rather cadaverous-looking Abbadon town council spokesman from the moment I first saw him, for example - but things still flow along smoothly enough rather than jerking forward awkwardly with abrupt revelations thrown at the audience in the third act like many modern horrors.
As well as Huggy the Clown, creepy ghost girl returns for the sequel as well, and she's also joined by some of the victims of the Hell House from the previous film. We also get a nice little Vanishing Hitchhiker segment and aspects of the way the Abbadon Hotel/its spirits operated reminded me of both House of Leaves and the Dionaea House, albeit with their own spin on it. The use of multiple sources of found footage, inserted throughout the film so that it jumps back and forth from previous incidents and a TV segment that gradually tells the story of how this new group ended up in the hotel, to the events that befell this ill-fated group, both keeps with the mockumentary style and serves to keep the audience off-balance, so that we're not sure where the next scare is going to come from. There's also a TV psychic who enters the hotel with our group, and much like with Grave Encounters I couldn't wait to see him meet a sticky end in there.
Hell House LLC 2: The Abbadon Hotel is currently available exclusively on Shudder, and is indeed meant to be the middle part of a trilogy. Clearly the series is building to something big for the third and final part, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing it.