The Houses October Built 2 is an insipid companion to a mediocre first attempt, failing to capture the novelty of the first film. What made the first movie enjoyable is simply absent here. One year after five friends are kidnapped while traveling to find the scariest haunted houses, the gang is again road tripping across the country, this time using online fame and notoriety to visit and review various haunted attractions for cash.

What the movie lacks is the scares or any anticipation for the scares. While the first movie was filled with plenty of decent indie frights, the second film feels like it’s dragging its feet, trying to be too much like the documentary the franchise is built upon. The meandering pace deflates any expectation of the terrors that are crammed into the final 20 minutes.

The group of friends do visit real-world attractions, which is one of the more interesting aspects of the movie. The first film really played up its found-footage origins, even if it did suffer from the expected stereotypes of the genre. But in The Houses October Built 2, it feels even more over-manufactured. There’s footage from both the friends and the Blue Skeleton collective from the first movie that is still pursuing them in the sequel.

However the movie does explain away this oddity through an inelegant twist and an exposition dump at the end that left me feeling like I’ve been robbed of something. The small, creepy world of out-of-the-way haunted attractions that are more sinister than advertised which the friends are trying to find in the first movie, gives way to an uninteresting plot line of deception among friends searching for fame. It’s a lackluster conclusion to an otherwise subpar movie.

It’s hard not to compare this movie and its prequel because they are inexplicably tied together thanks to the twist and the fact the questions lingering from the ambiguous ending of the first movie are answered at the beginning of the sequel. The camaraderie among friends return—probably one of the better aspects of the film—but the story suffers from a rudderless script struggling to help the characters find their way to the real scares. This movie will leave you checking your phone while you wait for something scary to happen.

The Houses October Built 2 gets a limited theatrical and VOD release on September 22, 2017.