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Hell House (2001)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 10 March 2002 (USA)
A look at the "Hell House" performed annually in October by the youth members of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Cedar Hill, Texas (a Dallas suburb) - seen by over 10,000 visitors ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Aria Adloo ...
Herself
Ashley Adloo ...
Herself
Amy Allred ...
Herself
Gabriel Allred ...
Himself
Cherie Asbjornson ...
Herself
Brett Bedard ...
Himself
Tim Ferguson ...
Himself
Ben Hennesy ...
Himself
Jim Hennesy ...
Himself - Trinity Church pastor
Kristen Hennesy ...
Herself
Mark Hennesy ...
Himself
Rosanna Hennesy ...
Herself
Ryan Hennesy ...
Himself
J.R. Hernandez ...
Himself
Jennifer Hillman ...
Herself
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Storyline

A look at the "Hell House" performed annually in October by the youth members of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Cedar Hill, Texas (a Dallas suburb) - seen by over 10,000 visitors each year. We see the organization and planning of the event - including auditions, construction, scripting and rehearsals - largely through the involvement of one family: a single father with 4 children (one of whom suffers from cerebral palsy) including his daughter, a cast member. Written by scgary66

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This church wants to scare the Hell out of you.

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

10 March 2002 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Interviewee: The world is the worst that it has ever been. It's an ugly, evil world and that's a scary thing, but at the same time, it's a good thing because that means that Jesus is close to coming, and he's about to come back for his bride.
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Followed by Shock House (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A disturbing look at a side of America rarely seen
4 February 2006 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

I first came across "Hell House" about a year ago on Sundance Channel's "Doc Day," and having always been interested in films involving Christianity ("Saved!" and "Dogma" are my two favorites) I decided to sit down and maybe have a laugh or two at the down-south fundamentalism. What I saw wasn't much of a laugh: "Hell House" depicts young Christians in what has been called an "evangelical haunted house," in which they portray various scenes of people committing "sins," then being dragged off to hell by a demon in a cheap Halloween mask. In short, it's not a nice film for your Sunday afternoon.

Director George Ratliff first heard about this particular hell house when it attracted media attention for doing a school shooting scene just a few months after the Columbine shootings (though the house had been doing this particular scene for quite some time, it raised controversy in 1999 for being so soon after the Columbine massacre). He was allowed into the tight church community to make his 1999 documentary short "The Devil Made Me Do It," and went back a few years after to make this, the feature length-version, "Hell House." On the DVD features, Ratliff explains that the only way he would be allowed into the community to shoot the film was if he promised to portray things exactly how they are, and not put his own spin on them or try to counter the message of the church.

This is where the film sometimes gets criticism, as we are seeing some very offensive behavior from those putting on Hell House, and the only people there to dispute them are a bunch of drunken teenage Slipknot fans. To me, though, it shows how well the church has paralyzed the community with fear, as everyone goes along with this perverse project with smiles and clapping hands.

And yes, the Hell House itself is pretty disturbing- depicting scenes of botched abortions, a gay man dying of AIDS then renouncing God and being dragged off to hell, a girl killing herself after being raped at a club (then once again, being dragged off to hell), even a man burning for all of eternity because his uncle molested him as a child. To sum up, these people are "crazy" with three K's.

People seem to forget, however, that the film was not made by these religious fanatics themselves, but by an outsider. Most of the negative reviews for this are slamming the subject matter alone and the hideous people contained inside, which I think isn't fair. Yes, it's difficult to not be disturbed by "Hell House," (if I had seen this when I was younger, I would be convinced that I was going to hell) but you need to get past that and look at how Ratliff gets inside these people. I think I walked away from this movie feeling much more informed on the horrors of deep-south Christianity. Rather than having a vague idea from various stand-up comedians, this movie really gets to the nitty gritty of it all, which makes "Hell House" my all-time favorite documentary.

So if you want to be scared this Halloween, forget "Friday the 13th" or "The Exorcist" hunt down a copy of "Hell House" and prepare to be terrified.


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