Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor Poster

Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor (2023) Review

When I reviewed Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire, I said it seemed they had taken the franchise as far as it could go. Writer/director Stephen Cognetti seems to have had the same thought because, as you can probably tell from the title, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor provides some backstory to the events at the hotel rather than being another extension of the saga.

In 1989 The Carmichael Manor was the scene of a baffling and brutal crime. Two members of the family, were killed in their beds. The other two, father Arthur Carmichael (Robert Savakinus) and his son Patrick (Stephen Cognetti, The Hid) were missing. But there was only one set of footprints in the snow outside the house, presumably those of Arthur, who was thought to be the killer.

In 2021 paranormal researcher Margot (Bridget Rose Perrotta) received permission to spend five nights in the now empty mansion. Along with her girlfriend, Rebecca (Destiny Leilani Brown, Out of Water, Copperhead) she travels to the extremely remote estate and begins her investigation. Much to Rebecca’s dismay they’re joined by Chase (James Liddell, First Contact, Island Escape) Margot’s troubled brother.

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Like the other films in the franchise, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is a found footage/mockumentary with most of the plot composed of their footage with occasional context provided via interviews with people who knew them. It’s a familiar enough format, and it’s carried off decently enough here, as it should be by somebody whose done it as often as Cognetti has by now.

Although this is the fourth film in the Hell House LLC series, I want fans to know that this is not a ‘part 4’ or a prequel. In making the Carmichael Manor, I wanted to create an original story within the Hell House LLC universe yet set it in the present day instead of making a precursor to the original trilogy.

Stephen Cognetti

The storyline here is a bit more complex than in the previous films. The events take place after the third film but are directly related to the events at the hotel. There’s also a connection between Margot and Rockland County that might tie into the murders and her desire to solve them. And indeed they do find evidence that links it all together, much of it in the form of some of the Carmichael’s own home movies, adding a weirdly prophetic second layer of found footage to the proceedings.

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As the pieces fall together and things start to get more unsettling, we’re faced with the usual problem films like this present, why the characters keep filming rather than concentrate on surviving. And more to the point, why they don’t just leave before things get out of hand. I know by the time the clown mannequins find their way out of the storage room, I’d be hitting the road. In this case, two of them actually do, but rather unbelievably let themselves be convinced to stay “one more night”.

Found footage fans will be used to that, however, and what comes after it is sufficiently spooky to make the suspension of disbelief worth it. One interesting twist here is that evil has become familiar with technology, hijacking a computer presentation Rebecca makes and sending text messages from a dead person’s phone. Of course, we still get plenty of the traditional favourites, mysterious knocks on doors and a rubber ball that keeps rolling out of the darkness.

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Cognetti set out to make a film that continued the story without being a sequel and gave us some of the backstory without being a prequel, and for the most part, The Carmichael Manor succeeds in using its multiple timelines to do just that. It is linked to the Abaddon Hotel, while not being directly about it. We get clues about what led up to the curse, and we get sure signs that the evil hasn’t gone away. There’s also a post credits scene that suggests the cycle may be about to repeat itself.

While not as good as the original, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor is a big improvement over the last film in the franchise and should breathe a bit of life back into the proceedings. If they can maintain the quality, I wouldn’t mind it kicking off a second set of films about Rockland County and the town of Abbadon.

House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor will debut October 30th on Shudder.

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Our Score

1 thought on “Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor (2023) Review”

  1. I loved it. The scene with mask peeking around the corner would have sent me catapulting out of there. I wish that the parents had a part on film. It might give more of a perspective of the son’s descent into hell and what happened to the father. Excellent review.

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