An American Ghost Story (2013): A Macabre Review.

An American Ghost Story Poster

Greetings once again horror fiends.  Today I’ll be going in a very low-budget direction.  I’ll be looking at “An American Ghost Story,” directed by Derek Cole.  Filmed on a meager budget of approx $10,000, and filmed in Cole’s own house, I was curious to see how effective it was at delivering the scares.  So allow me once again to fill you in on what happens, and what I think about what happens.

Paul and Stella rent a house that’s rumored to be haunted.  Paul has rented the house in order to hopefully experience a supernatural event, which would do wonders for  an upcoming book he hopes to write.  Stella also wants to experience the supernatural, as well as support her man.  Years before, a father shot and killed his wife and kids, and then himself.  Paul’s first course of action is to decorate the house in order to make it as identical in look as possible to the time the deaths occurred.  He believes it will increase spirit activity that way.

Paul reveals to Stella one night that there is more to the whole project than merely writing a book.  Being in his thirties and not making any major accomplishments in that time, Paul feels that finishing this book will be something major in his life that he has actually seen through to the end.  Not to mention that he wants Stella to be proud of him.

It’s the ninth night spent there when something significant finally happens.  Paul has an interesting situation involving a basketball, while Stella gets the surprise of her life while in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, Stella is somewhat traumatized by her experience, and wants to leave immediately.  Paul convinces her to stay one more night.  But after a sleepless night, Stella leaves Paul alone in the house.

An American Ghost Story

SO….MANY…CUPBOARDS!!!

With his desperation to gain that feeling of accomplishment, Paul stays on the house, determined to experience something in the house.  Eventually, he gets his wish.  But will his wish cost him more than he hopes to gain?

While I had a couple of issues throughout, for a movie with such a small budget I thought it didn’t do too bad.  First off, I thought the acting was done well.  Unfortunately, after Stella leaves the house, you get one quick scene with her after during a phone conversation with Paul and then she’s gone for the rest of the movie.  Which is a shame, because Liesel Kopp (who played Stella) did a great job in her role.  She’s very good with using facial expressions to convey what she’s feeling in any given situation.

An American Ghost Story

You seem cold, can I offer you more blankets to completely cover yourself in?

The movie relies on jump scares for the most part, as horror movies these days are wont to do.  Some work, some don’t.  Some are predictable, others aren’t.  However, the movie did get me here and there, which is more than I can say for other, higher budget horror flicks that I’ve seen in the past.  And if you’re looking for blood and violence, tough luck.  If I recall, it was completely bloodless, and violent actions are few and far-between, preferring instead to get to you mentally.  Also, for those of you with low patience levels, you should be warned that AAGS prefers to take a slow-burn approach, so you might not be able to handle waiting for things to happen.

One issue I had with the movie is involving the passage of time.  There were a few instances where significant periods of time have been skipped over.  First one week, then two weeks, then three more weeks.  I didn’t quite get why that was necessary.  There was no indication that anything was done regarding Paul’s book (except for one scene that showed him writing, and it was unclear where he was progress wise).  Stella dropped off the face of the earth, and I wanted to know if she was still alive at least.  Also it took him quite a long time to talk to anyone else who formerly lived in the house.  Granted, only one of the former residents were willing to talk to him, but that was weeks after he initially made contact.  I fail to see why all the time that passed couldn’t have been shortened.

As I’ve said, while this isn’t a masterpiece, it’s still a decent effort given the small budget, and is worth a watch in my opinion.  And It has a DVD/VOD release on August 20th, so whichever method you choose, give it a look-see, and see for yourself.  Rest in peace.

Macabre Rating: 3 out of 5 tombstones

9 responses to “An American Ghost Story (2013): A Macabre Review.

  1. I think there’s too many of these ‘let’s move into a house that we know people have died horribly in and see if anything happens’. Are haunted houses ever going to get old? Personally I don’t think I’ll go looking for this one, I’m waiting for something original!

    • I understand. Unfortunately, originality isn’t quite as common as it used to be. If I have to wait for an original supernatural flick, or an original horror flick in general, I wouldn’t have much in the way of reviewing material to work with lol

      • Well I hope one day you can review an indie film the company I’m writing for makes. We’re still on our first film, but I’ll send you a link to it when it’s completed!

          • I’m filming next week! 😀 A short film I have written, produced and will be directing in a week’s time. I’m looking forward to it and hope the weather’s nice for it. Thanks Gravedigger Glen!

  2. It’s difficult, if not impossible to come up with something “original” in horror, if only because what scares us is primal. You might come up with a monster that has three horns instead of two, but at the end of the day it’s still a monster and it’s either scary or it’s not.

    With haunted house stories, the best you can do is build tension and tell a good and compelling story. The story is key.

  3. And with the success of THE CONJURING, we can expect a while new wave of these DTV and DTVOD flicks… we all remember the parade of zombie flicks after walking dead broke big hahaha ah here’s hoping we get a few half decent ones

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