March 19, 2004 spout

Review: Hell House

NetFlix brought Hell House” to my house the other day and I just finished watching it (in fact, the credits are still rolling).

Hell House is the name of a specific kind of haunted house” exhibit that some churches run every year at Halloween. This movie is a documentary of the church that originated the practice and is in it’s 10th year, having had 75,000 guests over that period. The hook is that the church puts on little mini-plays showing real-life horrors, e.g. domestic abuse, rape, murder, drunk driving, abortion and, sin-of-sins, homosexuality (which doesn’t hurt anyone, of course, but gets them on the news every year).

At the end of each tour through the Hell House scenes is a room with a member of the church applying age old used car salesman techniques to pressure people into converting or recommitting to the church. There success rate is 20%, which is why hundreds of churches around the country have adopted this practice.

It amazes me that such a thing actually happens. The techniques they use reminds me of a cross between the horror movies we was made to watch in driver’s ed and the pressure our society puts on our children to believe in Santa. Don’t cults get into trouble for this kind of thing? Truth is truly stranger than fiction.