To countdown to this year’s Halloween, Luke Owen reviews a different horror film every day of October. First up – documentary, The American Scream…
After the cult success of Best Worst Movie, Michael Stephenson returns with the Louis-Theroux style documentary The American Scream, following the lives of people obsessed with Halloween and the scaring that comes with it.
The weakest of the three comes in the form of Manny Souza and his family – though this could be down to the way the documentary is put together. There is nothing inherently boring about Manny and his work, but they never match up to the aspirations of Victor or the family bond of Matthew and Richard. It feels as though Stephenson knew this, which is why (outside of a superb section on his health and his family’s support of continuing his hobby) he is often left to be the forgotten third wheel, only brought back a couple of times just to remind us that he is still there.
While it is interesting to see these men put their haunted houses together, the movie’s biggest success is the climax in which we see the neighbours experiencing their work. As a man living in a country that doesn’t take the Holiday as serious as his American cohorts, this is the kind finale that makes you want to pack up your bags and go across the pond. Stephenson makes the simple act of watching people get scared by the creations and minds of these men is incredibly triumphant and it’s so satisfying to see their visions come to fruition. Even if you weren’t drawn into the stories and aspirations of these men, this is a fantastic ending and is expertly put together by Stephenson.
The American Scream is not the world’s best documentary and is certainly no where near as interesting as Stephenson’s previous effort, but its central story of Victor attempting to realise his dream is beautifully inspiring if nothing else. He has chosen his subjects well and this has paid off in most cases. For the most part, The American Scream is a funny, moving and insightful documentary, but isn’t likely to gain any cult status like Best Worst Movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★