Saturday, October 19, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Review of The American Scream

“Every Halloween, sleepy Fairhaven, Massachusetts erupts with the most ambitiously creative spookery in the world. Endless styrofoam tombstones and backyard beasts come courtesy of a few supremely dedicated local "home haunters" who've devoted their lives to the art of handmade monstermaking. In this surprisingly touching documentary, The American Scream follows three of these horrific households to uncover the triumphs and tragedies that come with carrying the blackened banner of true Halloween spirit.”

I’ll admit, I’ve been looking forward to seeing this documentary for quite a while. I’d always felt that home haunters didn’t always get the same media coverage as the pro haunts. Don’t get me wrong, I love pro haunts, I intend to own a pro haunt one day; but they do seem to get the lion’s share of the media attention. Apart from one or two solitary HGTV specials, home haunts mostly get their coverage through local news or the internet. So when I heard that a full-length documentary was being made, that focused exclusively on home haunters, I was already jonesing to see it. Sadly, two years went by before I actually had the opportunity to view it. And when I did I was not disappointed.

The American Scream focuses on three sets of haunters: Victor Bariteau and his family, Manny Souza, and Matthew and Richard Brodeur, all of whom reside in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The film follows all of them over the course of October 2011, as they prepare for the big 10-31. It shows the thought process of each haunter behind their creation, and examines why they (and by extension, most haunters) go the extreme of creating a haunted wonderland in their backyard. It shows the trials and tribulations, and the toll it sometimes takes on their family and friends. It also perfectly (and hilariously) captures that last minute feeling of panic that every haunter has; spills, not being able to finish one project on time, props breaking/disappearing/not working right, and plentiful frustrated cries of “motherf#cker!” But then, as darkness descends, it shows the family, friends, and neighbors converging on the haunts to celebrate the greatest night of the year.

I have to say, the thing I liked best about The American Scream was how it focused on the haunters, not on the haunts. Don’t get me wrong, like any haunter I enjoy seeing the handiwork of my peers, but this was different. It focused on the people behind the art (and yes, I consider haunting to be an art form as well as entertainment). It told their stories, in a very touching way, very different than the angle most coverage of haunts take, which portray us haunters as kooky and off-center (we are, but that’s not the point). Ultimately, I cannot say enough good things about The American Scream. Everything about was very professional, from the camerawork to the music. It never once became cheesy, and remained a fascinating, touching, yet clear-eyed tribute to the Home Haunt subculture. If you are at all a Halloween or Haunt fan, you must see this film.
HalloweeNut’s Verdict:
4 out of 4 Skulls


  1. hey nice post meh, You are one of the best writers I've seen of recent. I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: How To Improve In A Little Way .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.


  2. Sounds great, I'll watch it tonight.