Thursday, June 19, 2014

Film Review: An American Ghost Story (2012)

An American Ghost Story (aka Revenant) (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...fans of jump-scares might find it somewhat entertaining."

Paul (Stephen Twardokus), a struggling writer, moves into a haunted house with his girlfriend to write a novel based on the experience...

An American Ghost Story is a fairly straightforward and predictable haunted house film. The story follows Paul as stays in the home of an infamous murder in order to write a book. (As you can see, the basic premise is very similar to that of 2012's Sinister, but the similarities don't stop there.) That's all that really happens. Furniture moves, voices are heard, and people are reluctant to talk to Paul about their experiences in the home. As the story progresses, the force gets stronger. The ending was interesting; it's original, but also unintentionally humorous. Very generic, as you can see, but what can you expect from a film with such a generic title?

As for the horror, An American Ghost Story is heavily reliant on loud-noise jump scares. The suspense building up to these jump-scares is merely decent; the buildup for these scenes takes way too long, so most of the suspense dwindles before the climax... which, in turn, makes the climax less effective. There are plenty of jump-scares spread throughout the film, though. Most of the horror sequences take place as Paul wanders around his house in the dark. (again, glaringly similar to Sinister.) It's not the most terrifying film, but fans of jump-scares might find it somewhat entertaining.

The acting ranges from mediocre to decent. Stephen Twardokus is decent as the leading man; and, once more, he has a striking resemblance to Ethan Hawke's character in Sinister. Since most of the supporting cast is mediocre, it's fortunate that Twardokus takes up most of the screen time. The lighting was well used during the horror sequences. The music was mediocre; the score is repetitive and too strong for a horror film. Director Derek Cole delivers some decent suspense and a few jolting jump-scares, but this effort is ultimately damaged by its generic story, mediocre acting, and bad music; however, it is a promising indie horror film, and I'd like to see what Cole is capable of with a larger budget, better writing and better cast.

Overall, An American Ghost Story is a mediocre horror film. Although it does have some surprisingly decent scares and suspense, it has a severe lack of originality, the acting is mediocre, the music is bad, and there are some pacing issues. Fans of jump-scare horror films and those who don't mind smaller production values will likely find the most enjoyment from this film.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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