Hell House (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hell House (2002)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: A fascinating, even-handed account of Hell Houses.

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Movie Info

Following up on his acclaimed documentary Plutonium Circus, George Ratliff returns to nonfiction filmmaking with this look at an unusual Halloween haunted house. Every Halloween for the past decade or so, the Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas has exhibited Hell House. While the place features the usual screaming rubber demons, dripping fake blood and dry ice smoke, this fun house is one with a purpose -- to scare kids away from the tempting road of eternal damnation, featuring horrors of this place include suicide, abortion, AIDS, drug and a host of others. Aimed at shocking today's jaded MTV generation, the house preaches a fire and brimstone sermon about the necessity of spiritual salvation. Ratliff goes behind the scenes of this Christian spectacular showing the planning meetings, casting calls, and opening jitters. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Faith & Spirituality, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 27, 2003
Runtime:
Seventh Art Releasing - Official Site

News & Interviews for Hell House

Critic Reviews for Hell House

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (9)

Frightening, well-done documentary.

November 15, 2002
New York Post
Top Critic

As a director, Mr. Ratliff wisely rejects the temptation to make fun of his subjects.

Full Review… | November 14, 2002
New York Times
Top Critic

Lookin' for sin, American-style? Try Hell House, which documents the cautionary Christian spook-a-rama of the same name.

Full Review… | November 12, 2002
Village Voice
Top Critic

The Trinity Assembly approaches the endeavor with a shocking lack of irony, and George Ratliff's documentary, Hell House, reflects their earnestness - which makes for a terrifying film.

Full Review… | October 18, 2002
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Texan director George Ratliff had unlimited access to families and church meetings, and he delivers fascinating psychological fare.

Full Review… | October 17, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Lazy filmmaking, with the director taking a hands-off approach when he should have shaped the story to show us why it's compelling.

Full Review… | October 10, 2002
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hell House

An interesting doc about a church that puts on a super elaborate Death House every Halloween.
While I understand their goal... this is a very in your face chose-now-or-else kind of ministry that may just turn more people away or achieve false results in the people who accept Jesus at the end just out of fear and not out of a true want of a relationship with Christ.
A lot of the time during the prep the church folk come off looking silly as they are telling about the dangers of things they really don't know any real information about. A scene in which two people are talking about how role playing games and Magic: The Gathering leads to worship of the dark arts comes off with the two looking silly as they can't figure out what the name of the card game is. This shows that they never really looked into the things they are condemning... only using the popular targets for their wrath.
Likewise, the scene in the House depicting the sin of homosexuality is very cliched as we see a gay man dying of Aids in a hospital. Because everyone knows that only gay people get Aids...
It is interesting to see how much effort goes into the creation of the House each year and there are really good scenes of people exiting the house and their reaction to the whole thing.
One group of teens get almost violent afterward as a man at the church tries to explain why they put on the event. They spend the whole time cursing and throwing around "facts" about why the church is a fraud only to come off looking moronic and hateful.
A good watch no matter who you are and what you believe.

superclerk25
Jason Spencer

Super Reviewer

½

I don't feel like this documentary reveals anything we didn't know was already there. People so ignorant of reality and into their own viewpoint so intensely that they think the Star of David is a pentagram, that Harry Potter and Magic the Gathering lead to Satanism, that AIDs can claim a victim in only a few days and that the disease exclusively targets gay men, that RU486 regularly kills people who take it and is as dangerous as late term abortions, that "date rape drug" or "mickey" is as technical of a name to give, that "speaking in tongues" is spiritual enlightenment and not a coverup for deep emotional trauma and possible mental illness. Just look at this country's voting records and one already knows how many and how deeply ignorant this section of the population really is.

This film is good for a laugh and seeing how fundamentalists operate (by a hive mindset that brainwashes children and emotionally susceptible people). I do wish there had been more sequences depicting people who went through being openly outraged at those who put this show on; as it is, there is one sequence but I know that there were hundreds more of those confrontations. Also, some say that this is a non-judgmental film, and that's absolute shit; this film is clearly sympathetic to this ignorant and hateful lifestyle, allowing the people featured to engage in their contrary actions without questioning them (like the guy who acts at the Hell House and then does incredibly mock-violent underground wrestling matches). The film does clearly give these people ample opportunities to spout the doctrines they've been taught to repeat, and lets them do it proudly without any consequence of a followup question.

Stinger839
_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

½

Somewhat interesting how some churches will scare their youth into leading straight and clean lives. It's shocking how the performers in the house re-created scenes of urban and domestic horror. The choice the customers are given at the exit is interesting. A bit fanatical, but some kids need a good scaring. I'd like to go through a Hell House for the thrill of the performance.

YosemiteSamFan
Lafe Fredbjornson

Super Reviewer

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