Saturday, October 4, 2014


Chiller Films presents Michael Stephenson's follow up to BEST WORST MOVIE.  It is a documentary about three families who every year turn their homes into haunted house attractions in the city of Fairhaven, Massachusetts.  People who do this are called "House Haunters".  The film details the challenges and stresses that go into making these attractions as well as the rewards for doing so for the families and the neighborhoods that they live in.  Oh, and the documentary is called THE AMERICAN SCREAM.  I probably should have mentioned that earlier.

The documentary starts off with Victor and his family.  Victor is a man that is focused on every detail of his haunt.  He wants it to be the biggest, scariest and most realistic looking attraction in the whole city.  He goes all out.  We learn that he didn't have a childhood that enjoyed things like cartoons, Christmas, birthdays and Halloween.  His attraction is more of a way of reclaiming some of that lost time.  A couple of blocks away Manny is also putting up an attraction.  He loves doing it but he doesn't get stressed with detail like Victor does.  He does it for fun and as a way to bond with his family more.  A few more blocks away is Matt and Richard who are a father and son team (I forget which one is which) who do not necessarily have the technical skill to pull off an elaborate haunt but they have big hearts and use their attraction to collect donations for charity and entertain their neighbors.  It is funny because you can see the quality of each attraction diminish as they move from Victor's elaborate and expensive sets down to Matt and Richards cheap and tacky but still creative decorations.  They all have different resources and work with what they got but they all have the same love and devotion to the holiday of Halloween.  Also scaring people is a lot of fun apparently.

This is a pretty good documentary.  It isn't nearly as good as BEST WORST MOVIE but it still has its own appeal.  My biggest problem is that I am not into house haunting unless it is real ghosts of course.  I am into movies which is why I love BEST WORST MOVIE so much.  However I do love Halloween which is why I find reason to be interested in the subjects of this documentary.  Also everyone is so dang likable.  You want them all to be successes which they are.  They all have to deal with their past and present day problems which everyone can relate to.  Those problems have a way of getting in the way of what they want to do with their lives.  These guys show us that you can succeed no matter how big and stressful your problems can be.

Really this is a movie about people doing what they want to do and following their dreams.  Victor wants to be a professional house haunter and he is given that chance to be that.  The message is to follow your dreams.  Manny wants to spend more time with his kids and watch them grow up.  Matt and Richard just want to make people happy.  Even though this movie feels a little dry at times you can't help but be touched by each one of these guys as they show us their love for their families, friends and Halloween.  By the end it is Victor that puts Halloween into a perspective I never thought of before.  Basically he said that Halloween is a holiday for the neighborhood.  Christmas and Thanksgiving are for families.  Halloween brings strangers in the neighborhood together to celebrate one night of the year.  There is also this understanding that each Halloween is precious.  It only comes once a year and you will only experience so many of them in your life.  The families in THE AMERICAN SCREAM make the most out of their favorite holiday.  They spend time with each other creating memories of putting up and taking down these attractions.  They together feel the excitement of opening their haunts to the public as well as the sadness of it being over.  Be sure you make the most of this Halloween this year as well as the many more to come.  You know I will.......probably.


No comments:

Post a Comment