It was officially Docfest preview night at the Roxie, showcasing this wonderful film that they just couldn't quite fit into Docfest (and which really should be seen pre-Halloween anyway, Docfest doesn't start until November 8.
THE AMERICAN SCREAM is all about the fine art/obsessive hobby of home haunting. It's the people who do a little more than put a jack-o-lantern and maybe a scary skeleton on their lawn. These are people who spend months turning their home into a house of horrors for one night.
Specifically, it's about three families in the sleepy town of Fairhaven, MA, who do home haunts. They have varying levels of skill/obsessiveness, ranging from the father who goes crazy about perfection for months beforehand, working himself nearly to death. To the father/son team who...it's charitable to call them amateurs, but they still love doing it. In between is the family that does a pretty good job, avoids getting too obsessive, and just has fun with it (ending the night with a big silly-string fight.)
What's really interesting (and I'm no sociologist, so I don't know if this is indicative of anything more than the filmmakers' focus) is that these are all stories of families. They don't show any creepy loner who likes to build haunts (or maybe someone whose obsession with haunting drove his family away.) These are things they do as families, for families, and if the family wasn't into it I'm sure they would stop immediately. Heck, my favorite relationship in the movie is with that perfectionist father and his little girl who is totally into haunting, too. My favorite line is when daddy calls her, "a sick little girl" with all the warmth and pride that any father would tell his daughter he loves her.
The movie takes us through pretty much all of October, as the preparations get more and more frantic, until the big night when everything pays off. I loved the reaction shots--especially little kids screaming and crying with fear. And the older woman who is delighted that she "hasn't been so scared since [she] was a kid!"
THE AMERICAN SCREAM is coming to ChillerTV on October 28th. Or you might be lucky enough to live somewhere where it's playing on the big screen.
Running Time: 91 minutes
My Total Minutes: 300,528