A team of investigators are sent to a haunted house by a wealthy benefactor to prove or disprove the presence of supernatural forces, most notably ghosts. The team is made up of Mr. Barrett, a physicist- and paranormal investigator, his wife Ann, and two psychic, Florence, and the only man to have ever returned from the house alive, Benjamin. A long time ago the house was owned by Eric Belasco, a man who committed notorious and unspeakable deeds in the house where he died presumably alongside his fateful followers. Everyone whose attempted to visit the house has either ended up dead or raging mad, and the investigators are to spend a week, isolated and alone. A character in the film refers to this house as "The Mount Everest of Haunted Houses", and what John Hough's The Legend of Hell House achieves may very well make it the Mount Everest of Haunted House films. This is a film that wastes no time getting to the point, with one simple expositional scene in which the benefactor gives Mr. Barrett the offer, a scene that's ominous in its own right. The fact that the House and it's haunted controller, Eric Belasco, can manipulate/possess any living matter which enters is a great device, giving the film's narrative even more to work with while making it less predictabe. If you are looking for a particularly violent film look elsewhere but The Legend of Hell House is a highly disturbing descent into madness that touches on religion vs. science while attacking the viewer throughout with a truly visceral experience. The film is expertly crafted, with shot compositions that do a wonderful job at evoking tension and suspense. Hough's composes dynamic shots using the depth of the frame to fullest, creating suspense in scenes that are merely two character's having a conversation. John Hough's The Legend of Hell House is a film that I'm shocked I hadn't heard more about in the past, and in my opinion it stands over most, if not all, haunted house films.
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