Yes, on October 31, 2016, Halloween night, you can watch this documentary right here with INFLUX Magazine! Check back on Halloween after 5:00 PM (PST). Get a first look!
It's not your typical documentary. A Haunting at Hobb's Grove is caught somewhere in between documentary film and reality TV. In short, it covers a night, or nights, at a haunted attraction in Sanger, California (near Fresno). The movie was shot over two years and doesn't look to break any news or reveal any twisted revelations, but rather, it presents a simple look at the work that goes into running a haunt, from both the perspective of the operators and the visitors.
Chris Giese takes center stage in the movie as Farmer Billy Bob. Giese is one of the chief operators of the haunt and he seems to know all of the ins and outs as well as every dark and horrific secret. Giese, like all of the actors, remain in character once the costume is on. Giese's alter-ego is that of Farmer Billy Bob, who patrols the haunt. By day, Billy Bob entertains the young visitors and keeps things mild and not too scary. By night, Billy Bob patrols the grounds, making sure lines move and attractions run smoothly. He is also one of the designers of the fears and frights throughout the venue.
A Haunting at Hobb's Grove also introduces the viewer to a variety of other participants, including owner Lore Callahan, who gives us some background on how the haunt transitioned from small attraction to getting more than 30,000 visitors in the month of October every year.
Ryan Carter, who plays Sloppy the Clown, takes on a daytime tour of Haunted Forest revealing it's daytime secrets. Although we only get a glimpse, Carter's Sloppy appears to be an overwhelmingly freaky creepy clown. Considering the creepy clown sightings over the last year, this only adds to the terror!
I would have liked to have seen more of Noe Barojas, the haunt's all purpose handyman. It sounds like he keeps things going in the heat of the action but we don't get a real look at what he does, just a hint. It would have been interesting to see more of this "behind the scenes." Some of the actors allude to attractions that go faulty and Noe coming to the rescue but we don't get to see him in action.
The movie is at its most entertaining as we, the viewer, walk the haunt with visitors. Cameras follow them through the three main attractions (the Hayride, the Forest and the House). It is dark and hard to see what happens at times and the movie does not reveal all on screen. It gives us lots of glimpses and hints and at times is very dark, but that is the nature of the haunt too. When walking the haunt with the visitors, the sounds of fear and terror are amazingly fun. The screams are constant as is the commentary.
Overall, the filmmakers kept a pretty mild tone, with some moments of intensity. It's the type of documentary that could easily transition to a weekly reality series. I, for one, would like to see more.