Fantastic Fest 2012: Capone says the great haunted house doc THE AMERICAN SCREAM puts the Fs back in Fun, Fear, and Fairhaven!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
One of my favorite films from this year's Fantastic Fest was a sweet, funny and sometimes disturbing documentary about a few of the fine folks of Fairhaven, MA, who design and execute some of the most elaborate and scary haunted houses (knows as "haunts") right in their own homes for one night only. To make the film just a little more interesting, THE AMERICAN SCREAM is the latest directing effort from Michael Paul Stephenson, director of the in-depth look at the TROLL 2 phenomenon, BEST WORST MOVIE. Between the two films, Stephenson shows that he has a real gift at getting people to open up to him and share their best and worst behaviors in front of his camera.
Stephenon focuses on three families in Fairhaven who live mere blocks from each other, although the true centerpiece of the film belongs to Victor Bariteau and his wife and two young daughters, all of whom take part (some reluctantly) in the conception and building of the haunted house, perhaps the most elaborate private haunt I've ever seen. Victor spends months preparing, designing, building and rehearsing for Halloween night, and the closer he gets to the date, the more bossy and self-absorbed he becomes. His sainted wife is used to it and barely complains; his kids are less tolerant. But as a long-time IT guy for a big company who's on the verge of losing his job due to cutbacks, Victor dreams of running a professional spook house. One of his daughters is particularly into horror, and watching her get creative and disgusting with the house designs, I got emotional.
The other two families belong to Manny Souza, who has a much more laid-back approach to his construction—if it gets done, great; if not, that's great too. Manny is type of guy who loves everybody and everybody loves in return. He provides a great deal of perspective on the neighborhood (which still has evening trick-or-treating on Halloween night) and the types of people that live there. The final family is the Brodeurs—Rick and Matt, father and son, who rely on more handmade haunted house props and effects (which break down or just plain break with an alarming regularity), but put a great deal of their awkward selves into everything they put on display.
THE AMERICAN SCREAM is as much about smalltown America as it is about haunted houses, and it succeeds on both levels. You will laugh a lot watching this movie, but you'll also experience tension as the clock runs out on construction of these wonders. And there's a real emotional kick as the true nature of some of the relationships on display is slowly revealed. But mostly the film celebrates creativity, family bonds, and a true sense of community. It made me proud to be a horror-loving American.
The film plays on the Chiller network in the week leading up to Halloween, but prior to and after that run, it's playing in select theaters across the country. In Chicago, THE AMERICAN SCREAM is playing a series of midnight screenings at the Music Box Theatre leading up to Halloween, including this weekend. You should not miss this great heart-warming experience about creating fun and fear in your community.
-- Steve Prokopy
Follow Me On Twitter
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
+ Expand All
Oct. 6, 2012, 12:21 a.m. CST
I love Halloween, as does my wife. I think that when we eventually get to see this movie, we'll really enjoy it. I just hope that chance comes sooner rather than later.
Oct. 6, 2012, 11:21 a.m. CST
by Bouncy X
which still has evening trick-or-treating on Halloween night
Oct. 6, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST
by Bouncy X
Oct. 7, 2012, 2:05 a.m. CST
A lot of cities/towns don't allow trick or treating on after dark or on actual Halloween night. Individual communities designate a couple of hours during daylight hours on a weekend. But in Fairhaven, trick or treating happens on Halloween night after dark; it's a pleasant throwback to a safer time.
Oct. 8, 2012, 8:05 a.m. CST
I live in Massachusetts....I guess there's been some towns that changed the rule, but I've lived in a few differnt towns and cities here and it's always been on Oct 31st - after the sun sets. weird.
- HERCULES ON THE RADIO!! Learn What Ain’t It Cool’s TV Critic Thinks Of The First Jack Bauer 24 Adventure Since 2010!! Plus GAME OF THRONES, MAD MEN, HANNIBAL, AGENTS OF SHIELD, And More!! And The Return Of FX MOVIE DOWNLOAD Star Sasha Perl-Raver!! Listen And Call In LIVE Saturday 8pm PT / 11pm ET!! -- 297 total posts 147 posts
- Capone feels slightly in limbo about HEAVEN IS FOR REAL!!! -- 361 total posts 80 posts
- Harry rambles fondly about Eli Roth's THE GREEN INFERNO a real red meat Jungle Cannibalism kinda movie! -- 269 total posts 23 posts
- ‘I Have Something To Say To The People Of Meereen!!’ The Stormborn Returns For Tonight’s Third GAME OF THRONES Of 2014!! -- 20 total posts 20 posts
- Does This X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST International Poster Get you X-Cited?? -- 584 total posts 18 posts
- Capone desperately wants to pull the plug on TRANSCENDENCE!!! -- 237 total posts 17 posts
- Watch the Opening 3 Minutes of Joss Whedon's IN YOUR EYES! -- 203 total posts 13 posts
- ‘Why Don’t We Just Start Our Own Agency??’ Sunday Brings One Of The 13 Final MAD MENs!! -- 11 total posts 11 posts
- So, what's Steven Spielberg's slate looking like these days? -- 202 total posts 9 posts
- Two Images From Michael Fassbender’s MACBETH Movie!! -- 121 total posts 6 posts