Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
I’m obviously way into Halloween but I’ve got nothing on the guys in today’s movie, The American Scream (Netflix, $3.99 Amazon). It’s a documentary (Wait! Don’t go!) about a phenomenon known as “home haunting”, which has nothing to do with domesticated ghosts. Rather it refers to regular (more or less) people who work for months every year to turn their backyards into haunted houses for Halloween. Despite my love for the season, a few things keep me from ever attempting such a feat: (1) I have no yard and (2) I prefer to spend the thousands and thousands of dollars it costs on luxuries like keeping my family from starving to death. Thankfully there are folks like this in the world who supply more than enough Halloween spirit to make up for the rest of us dilettantes.
The doc spends perhaps a little too much time focusing on the home haunters’ foibles, especially a father-son duo who probably shouldn’t be living on their own. It seems to suggest a correlation between intense devotion to an unusual hobby and the inability to function in society, which is bullshit. I admit this is probably a personal issue for me. I don’t like picking on people who live outside the mainstream and, however unavoidable, that’s what this feels like. It reminds me of The Dungeon Masters, which I generally enjoyed except for how it cherry-picked three crazy people (okay, two crazy people and one smart young woman with low self-esteem) to represent an entire community of people who happen to generally be quite well adjusted and not at all scary. (Unless some asshole insists he has combat advantage when he clearly doesn’t, STEPHEN.)
Anywho, despite a bit more finger pointing than is absolutely necessary, The American Scream is a hoot and at least one of the haunters puts together a display that is nothing short of astounding. Sure, the enormous cost of this guy’s single-minded pursuit suggests a dangerous obsession that may be damaging his family. (No clubhouse for you, sweetheart. Daddy needs that area to store his coffins.) But still, it’s pretty fucking awesome. I wish I had a neighbor who liked scaring neighborhood kids more than caring for his own family when I was growing up. In his defense, this cat seems like a pretty decent guy when it’s not October. He even drops a few pearls of legit wisdom, like comparing a new business venture to halloween – it’s fun, it’s thrilling, and it’s also a little scary. Not bad, negligent dad. Now take a break from sculpting mummies to build your wife a damn half-bath!
Added bonus: when you’re done watching, make sure you go here for a kind of “where are they now” on father of the year up there. Happy ending! Sort of!