The American Scream
The Halloween night is full of traditions. For most children (and their parents or whoevers watching them), they will put on a costume they want to be and trick or treat to the extent of getting drunk on sugar. I loved the old idea of dressing up as whoever I want (the last time I went trick or treating I was Charlie Chaplin) and getting as much candy as I could until multiple houses told me to go home. For a lot of other people, they may go to a party where they will also dress up and simply celebrate the fact that this is a once in a year tradition.
One thing that a lot of people like to do around All Halos Eve is to go inside at least one haunted house. I’m not talking about a large mansion with an ghoul waiting to move on into the afterlife. You know what I mean; the houses in suburban neighborhoods that go all out for the holiday by making their own maze through a haunting atmosphere. It might only go through their garage or they may even use their entire house. The American Scream is a documentary about haunted mazes and the people that build them.
Now I’m not the kind of guy that goes through these mazes (I hate jump scare, and I tend to defend myself), but I can understand why people go through them; they like to feel scared. They like to have their emotions challenged when they can’t see the pop up monsters and such. We love Halloween, but the people who run these mazes are clearly the biggest fans. Our subjects here are three sets of families that all live on the same block in a seaside Massachusitts town; Victor Bariteau, Manny Souza, and Matthew and Richard Brodeur.
What I knew before hand was that they took their craft seriously enough to drag their families into their dreams. What I didn’t know was that this is something that is such an industry that there are conventions. They talk about the best strategies to frighten people and even bring up the possibilities to make money off of them (though it is recommended not to). The movie follows each family up to the Halloween opening date as they get their hands on anything spooky whether they buy it at a Halloween Store or pick it up at a garage sale. Setbacks happen to unfinished props and unreliable family members, but each person does their best to bring their mazes to a haunting finish.
Now this is a documentary about the most passionate about Halloween. The American Scream was made by them, for them. I think I liked it a lot more then I intended because the people behind the haunts are dedicated to their craft and work harder then I do carving a jack o lantern. Now what I was wondering as I watched this was “if they put in this much love for their haunted houses, then why haven’t they been this ambitious in the real world?”
The American Scream shows the three families as not wealthy. In fact, they are living under boxes of tombstones and spooky masks year round. So not only do they let the spirit of Halloween in for a month; they allow it to consume their persona as they would rather have their preparations ready to go then live comfortably. It’s not to say the neglect their loved ones entirely. In fact, the families are all behind the creators (I love how much the kids tend to get in to the excitement). If I should note anything, you can tell that this was purely meant as a television documentary. Would it have helped to talk about why people like going into the haunted houses? But in all honesty, we all know the answer. So we just need to sit back and watch these haunts come alive for the thirty-first.
I’ll give this four and a half zombie signs out of five. The American Scream is something that all fans of Haunts have wanted for years. Perhaps they can film another follow up to see if one of their mazes becomes a full year round walk through.