THE AMERICAN SCREAM may be presented as an ideal film to see during this Halloween season, because it documents the journey of three different house haunters in Fairhaven, MA, as they barrel towards their favorite holiday of the year in the hopes of putting on the best production they can for themselves and for their surrounding community. However, this is a film that reaches far beyond that and really deserves to be watched all year round as it reminds you what it feels like to dream, to have a passion and a love for something that that's all you can think about, that that's all you want to do. These are stories of having an excitement for one particular thing so great that it can't be contained and, in fact, becomes infectious to others who you've now inspired with your hard work and dedication.
There are parts of THE AMERICAN SCREAM that are like looking into a mirror for me. Believe me... there are probably tons of things that I could do besides writing for Ain't It Cool News that would net me a lot more money and probably be much more beneficial for my family. But would I love it nearly as much? Would it give me the avenue to be able to do something I enjoy doing and think I'm good at (some of the Talkbackers would vehemently disagree with that assessment, I'm sure)? But I've enjoyed being involved here because of my passion and love for movies, which is shared with our dedicated base of readership. It's exciting to be able to bring a story to you, a bit of an obsession of sorts, because it might inform you just a bit more, or set off some sort of debate or discussion amongst fans who are passionate about some specific property. There's a thrill to being able to bring you a new trailer or an opportunity to gather together for a particular movie, and not just because films are special to me, but because they're special to others, and it feels good to be able to share that bond with someone else in North Dakota or Sweden or over in the next county. Movies mean something to people, and it's touching to know that something I've written or said or put out there for others to read may have struck a chord in them to watch something or consider something in a new way or maybe even to have gone off with the desire to make movies themselves. But it's what I love to do... and, much like Victor Bariteau's family in THE AMERICAN SCREAM, there have been sacrifices made to support my dream. Money can be tight at times. Extra time is in short supply as I push to write up a review or try to get a story out as quickly as possible, because I feel I need to write it or I feel you need to read it. Sometimes my kid just wants to play with me, and I'm telling him just five more minutes, so I can let you know a new CONAN is in the works. THE AMERICAN SCREAM was a bit of an emotional film for me, because I understand, recognize and identify with what these three subjects are going through in their preparation for Halloween, and it really connected with me on a very personal level.
Michael Paul Stephenson's documentary gives a pretty extensive look at three haunters - Victor Bariteau, Manny Souza and the father-son combo of Rick and Matt Brodeur - all of different skill levels in bringing haunted houses to their communities on Halloween. They all have different motivations for how they go about bringing their houses to life, but the one thing they really share among themselves is a desire to make others happy. That's what all of their hard work is about. Sure, they can be able to say they built that or they created this, but, in the end, it's about knowing that someone's enjoyment on Halloween was caused by them. They'll be remembered for doing something great, even if they never receive a word of thanks or appreciation. They know how much what they do means to others... they can tell by the smiles or tears or screams that rise from the people who frequent their Halloween projects... and that's music to their ears. The stress and the frustration of doing something that is essentially your legacy shines through, and Stephenson doesn't shy away from showing the toll undertaking such a massive idea has on the person at the head of the operation, but also on their family. Chasing a dream like this can absolutely be viewed as selfish, because you have to be taking the support others are giving in order to achieve your goal without much room for giving back yourself. But there is plenty of space for bonding, for sharing your passion with your family and friends, for allowing them to also become part of the dream themselves.
THE AMERICAN SCREAM opens the door for you to be inspired by others who have the courage to chase their dreams. They're willing to take the risk to do something they love through all of their hardships, in order to be able to look back and say at least they tried to do something rather than be filled with regret down the line. If you walk away from this film, ready to embrace a passion or go after a dream or feeling like you want to make a change in your life doing something you enjoy on a much higher level than just as a hobby, then you understand what's at the heart of the film. If not, that's okay... you'll still find an emotionally engaging film about people who really enjoy Halloween to entertain you.
THE AMERICAN SCREAM premieres Sunday, October 28, on the Chiller Network at 8:00 p.m. EST, and is now showing in select theatres.
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