Review

'The Houses October Built 2' revisits effective mix of found-footage horror and haunted houses

The 2014 shocker “The Houses October Built” had a fairly original spin on found-footage horror, mixing scenes from real American haunted houses with a fictional story about thrill-seekers pursuing one “extreme haunt” too many.

“The Houses October Built 2” brings back the core cast and the same team of filmmakers (led by writer-director-star Bobby Roe and writer-producer-star Zack Andrews). This time out, both the characters and the people playing them have become famous among scare aficionados, due to the first film.

Roe and Andrews add a few other new wrinkles, including drone cameras and a new “holy grail of haunts” for the heroes: a shadowy group named Hellbent that treats its clientele to an experience akin to being kidnapped and tortured.

As was the case with the original, most of the first hour of “Houses October Built 2” offers a loose tour through various Halloween-themed attractions around the country, including a hayride, a zombie race, an R-rated circus sideshow, and a hot dog-eating contest featuring competitive eating champ Takeru Kobayashi and the makeup-wearing band members of Mini Kiss.

These vignettes are only sporadically entertaining, and sap a lot of the narrative momentum before the extended climax — which itself is largely a retread of the first film’s big finish. Still, the basic concept behind this franchise remains sound: take some borrowed scares from professional haunters, add a few spooky twists, then leave the audience puzzling over how much that they saw actually happened.

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‘The Houses October Built 2’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Playing: Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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