"It's one of the worst things ever, and one of the best things ever," he said. "It's cool to see how the audience reacts to the turns and twists in the plot."
He'll have another opportunity to gauge reactions to his second movie, at a free screening at his alma mater, Indiana University Kokomo, on Thursday, April 17.
Hougland, 23, who earned his degree in general studies in December, will be available for discussion after the showing of Drifting, which starts at 6 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Many of the cast and crew members also will answer questions.
This is the second screening for the horror film, which premiered at Kokomo-Con in October 2013. He released Iceberg Theory in 2011, also at Kokomo-Con, a comics and pop culture convention.
Drifting is the story of a young woman who moves into a new house with her sister, and her past begins to come back to haunt her. Hougland describes it as a horror thriller.
"It is heavily a drama," he said. "Horror elements move the plot, but they are not the plot. It leaves a lot of open questions. I heard audible gasps during our previous screening, and people told me it creeped them out."
He financed production — including renting a better quality camera than he owned, and paying his cast and crew a small salary — with his tax refund.
"The whole budget of my film wouldn't have purchased the camera we rented," he said. "One of the actors drove from Peru, and what I paid him just covered his gas money."
He spent more than two years on the project, while he was a student at IU Kokomo and working. He deliberately scheduled filming for summer 2013, to coincide with his summer vacation from school.
"Working and going to school at the same time is hard enough," he said. "We intentionally waited for summer, since most of the cast and crew were going to school too."
Those viewing the movie will see many familiar landmarks. While the majority was shot in the house Hougland lived in at the time, he also filmed scenes in the Kelley Student Center on campus, as well as the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library and the Original Treasure Mart.
Scott Blackwell, visiting lecturer in humanities, saw the film, and was impressed. He encourages people to come to the screening.
"This is a film Kokomo can be proud of," he said. "It's an opportunity to support the arts in Kokomo, and I think it's a film that will resonate with college students in particular."
Hougland hopes to show Drifting a few more times, and is preparing for some film festivals. He did a limited run of DVD copies, which are available to buy at Comics Cubed in Kokomo.
With two movies behind him, he is ready to move on to a new challenge, possibly a comedic web series.
"Ultimately, this is my creative outlet," he said. "For me, that's where it begins and ends."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.