American Ghost Story, 2015.
Directed by Joseph O’Brien.
Starring David Hayter, Maria del Mar, Casey Hudecki, Frank Moore, Amanda Joy Lim, Adrienne Kress and Shara Kim.
A trio of kidnappers delivering their hostages to their boss take a detour along a deserted highway and incur the wrath of the demonic forces that dwell there.
American Ghost Story is a bit of a misleading title as it conjures up images of a Woman in Black-style haunted house tale, albeit an American one. The original title of The Devil’s Mile is a much better one and is more relevant to what actually happens in the film. “What happens in the film?” you may ask. Well, what happens is that three kidnappers named Toby (David Hayter), Cally (Maria del Mar) and Jackie (Casey Hudecki) have taken two teenaged girls captive and are delivering them to their mysterious boss Mr. Arkadi (Frank Moore). After getting lost and stopping for directions they take an alternative route and end up fighting for their lives as supernatural forces begin to pursue them along the deserted highway.
A neat little setup you may think, and certainly not what you would immediately expect from a film bearing the title that it does, but unfortunately writer/director/producer/visual effects supervisor Joseph O’Brien seems to have watched a few too many horror films from different sub-genres to make it gel into a coherent movie. Borrowing heavily from The Grudge and From Dusk Till Dawn in an all-too-blatant manner and failing to create a surreal Dust Devil-type atmosphere despite O’Brien throwing everything he can into the mix to try and sustain some sort of style, American Ghost Story is too erratic and jumps about from scene to scene, shifting tone and even genre as the narrative moves from crime thriller to road movie to J-Horror in a clunky and ham-fisted way.
When it comes down to it, American Ghost Story is derivative and just isn’t very entertaining. The story doesn’t deliver the thrills or excitement that Joseph O’Brien probably thought was going to come through on the other side of the camera lens and quite frankly he should be brought to task over the use of the long-haired Japanese (CGI) ghost image and the croaking noises that it makes, as somebody in The Grudge camp may want to have a quiet word. All credit to O’Brien for having a passion project and getting it made but next time could somebody please step in and help shape the script a little more and tell him when enough is enough?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★