Fantastic Fest Review: ‘The American Scream’

Posted by Rod Paddock - September 25th 2012 @ 3:53 pm

One day per year there is a holiday wherein kids can be kids and adults can…be kids too.  This is a holiday enjoyed equally by all ages. That holiday, of course, is Halloween!  Candy, costumes, and celebrations abound! For some it’s a day to be scared, but for others it’s a day to SCARE! And what better scare medium is there than a haunted house?  The American Scream is all about the scare; all about the people that create those haunted houses.

The American Scream is the product of Michael Stephenson , creator of the universally loved Best Worst Movie. Set in the small town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, this documentary tells tells the story of three unique families who spend months preparing for an event that has a single day’s payoff. We have an obsessive-compulsive computer systems manager, a father-son team, and a construction worker. Each of these families has a unique vision of what a haunted house should be, and during the film we watch them implement their distinct visions.

This movie provides a unique insight into how complicated and detail intensive these haunted house constructions can be. A person wanting to construct his or her own haunted house must have a multitude of skills. You must have the eye of an artist, design skills of an architect, the steady hand of a carpenter and the constitution of Rasputin. It take a special person to be a “house haunter” as they are called.

On the surface, this film is about people constructing haunted houses, but it has a much deeper context. Great documentaries do more than just graze the surface of a subject, they dig deeper, they take you into the heart and soul of it. Great documentaries are an exploration. This documentary has all the makings of greatness. After learning the basics of house haunting, we go into the every day lives of our documentary subjects. We learn the toll that construction can have on relationships and families. We learn how people lift each other up when the need arises. We learn one major lesson: haunted houses matter. Haunted houses are more than just buildings with scary lights and fog machines. They are community gathering places. They are places that endear themselves to people year after year. We learn that haunted houses are where families bond and friends pitch in when time get tough.

The American Scream is a splendid documentary that is more than just a simple instruction manual for creating haunted houses. This film has the heart of a lion and is a must see film for any horror fan. The American Scream airs October 28, 2012 on Chiller TV.

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