The American Scream – FF 2012 Review

Hey guys, Ben here.  Horrorella is down at Fantastic Fest and saw a little documentary that got her pretty excited so she decided to do a quick spotlight review of the film.  I can’t wait to see this myself as I really enjoyed Best Worst Movie as well.  I will definitely be recording this on my DVR at the end of October.

I loved this flick so damn much that it gets its very own write-up!  The American Scream is the second documentary from Best Worst Movie director and Troll 2 star Michael Paul Stephenson and it is crazy-charming.  The film follows three families in Fairhaven, Massachusetts who take Halloween to a whole new level.

Known in certain circles as “Home Haunters,” these families (and enthusiasts like them) go the extra mile every October 31st to transform their homes into haunted house attractions for the community.  Mazes are built in their backyards, windows are covered over, every spooky figure imaginable is placed on their lawn, friends are costumed and tasked with jumping out of shadows and scaring the shit out of guests; all the stops are pulled out for revelers every year.  These people have achieved a level of community fame and appreciation in Fairhaven and hundreds turn up every year to get scared.

The American Scream literally had me squealing with glee.  Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year (as it has been for many of you, I am certain) and watching how much the subjects get into Halloween really takes me back and makes me feel like a kid again in a big way.  There is no way you can watch this and not be made happy – if you can, your heart is dead.

The subjects of the film were all amazing.  The movie offers a real slice-of-life effect as a window is opened into their lives during their favorite time of year.  You get to see the families’ inner workings as they pull together to create magic and the family dynamic within each group is really awesome.  Everyone gets into the spirit in their own way and everyone plays their part.  Each family’s haunt is strikingly different from the others, with each carrying the creators’ fingerprints and takes on a life of its own.

This is my favorite kind of documentary – one that takes a seemingly minor, inconsequential subject and invites you into a strange little world that makes you incredibly happy.  Did I learn about a war-torn nation?  A third-world country?  Was the lid blown off a government conspiracy?  Am I more socially aware now?  Not really, no.  I watched a group of real, normal, everyday people take some time to indulge in a personal joy that is shared by many, and in the process, bring a bit of magic to those around them, including me, and that is awesome.

The American Scream was conceived in part by the Chiller network, who will be broadcasting it on October 28th, so if you have access to the network, you MUST check it out.  It will make you crazy-happy and kick off your Halloween the right way.

Minor SPOILER here, but totally a worthy one: One of the families who participated in the doc has decided to take their haunting pro this year.  Instead of operating in their backyard for their neighbors, they are opening a huge, real haunted house in Taunton, Massachusettes.  Ghoulie Manor will open its doors on September 28th and will scare the masses through the 31st.  If you find yourself nearby, pay them a visit!

by Horrorella

Be sure to check out Horrorella’s blog (here) and you can follow her on Twitter @horrorellablog.

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