Friday, November 02, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—The American Scream (2012) ***

NR, 91 min.
Director: Michael Stephenson
Starring: Victor Bariteau, Tina Bariteau, Matthew Brodeur, Richard Brodeur, Manny Souza, Lori Souza

I’ll admit it. I didn’t get the title at first. It’s a documentary about amateur house haunters, people who spend most of their time throughout the year creating a haunted house on their private residence for people to visit on Halloween. It took one of the film’s subject’s entire story to drive the title home for me. It is his “dream” to turn his obsession into a professional career. It’s his personal American “scream.”

I suppose that makes this documentary sound corny, and not in the candy sense. Director Michael Stephenson, the man responsible “Best Worst Movie” about the phenomenon of the ultra low budget movie “Troll 2”, doesn’t treat his subjects in any sort of cute manner, however. He sees their passion for this very specialized hobby in the same serious terms they do.

The story follows three different families in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. One patriarch is a very serious perfectionist who runs one of the most popular haunted houses in the area. The other two families also run very popular haunts but aren’t as diehard as the one guy. The doc is a fairly fascinating look at this growing national phenomenon.  

This movie recently premiered on the Chiller network and it is already streaming on Netflix. It’s a good way to finish off the Halloween holiday as it speaks to the heart of what we all get out of this time of year. It’s about adults who grasp so strongly to those Halloween memories (or lack thereof is some cases) that they never really let go of their childhood.

As I sat on my own porch this Halloween handing out candy to the trick or treaters, it struck me how differently children perceive this holiday than adults. When you’re a kid it’s about dressing up and getting candy. As an adult it’s about acting like a kid with permission from all the other adults. I watched the eastern part of my street fill up with fog as the evening went on. I knew it was coming from the house of my father-in-law. I saw the fog machine sitting on his back porch the other day. Act like a kid, Dad. It’s what you’re supposed to do on Halloween.

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