Hell House (2002)



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

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Movie Info

Documents a high-tech fire-and-brimstone sermon that a Dallas Pentecostal church puts on every Halloween to scare kids into coming to services. Trinty Assembly of God church invented Hell Houses in 1990 and every Halloween since they've pulled out truckloads of lights, enlisted hundreds of actors and built an enormous haunted house complex from scratch. Trinty's Hell House looks to be just a souped-up haunted house until one enters. Inside, a tour guide dressed as a demon takes a group of kids from room to room to view depictions of school massacres, AIDS deaths, fatal drunk-driving crashes and botched abortions. All the while, demons goad gullible teen actors to commit sins and then drag their recently departed souls off to Hell. In the end, the audience is escorted to Hell to watch all of the sinners from Hell House burning and suffering and begging anyone who will listen not to make the same mistakes they made.
Documentary , Special Interest , Faith & Spirituality
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Critic Reviews for Hell House

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jason Spencer
Jason Spencer

Super Reviewer


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.

_kelly .King
_kelly .King

Super Reviewer


Another very interesting religion doc. Had me laughing a few times during the preparations for the house.

Wu Chouin
Wu Chouin

Super Reviewer

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