11th Mar2015

‘American Ghost Story’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: David Hayter, Maria del Mar, Casey Hudecki, Amanda Joy Lim, Adrienne Kress, Frank Moore, Samantha Wan, Shara Kim, Craig Porritt | Written and Directed by Joseph O’Brien

american-ghost-story

I never really understand the need to rename horror films once they have already been released under a different name, but I guess there are plenty of reasons that the audience just don’t need to know.  American Ghost Story, formally known as Devil’s Mile (the title this film screened under at last years GrimmFest) is a film that managed to go through this process for its release in the UK, but luckily the film outshines the confusion.

Described as a Lovecraftian supernatural horror American Ghost Story sees a trio of kidnappers take a detour while on the road to delivering their hostages to a mysterious and powerful employer.  When one of the victims are accidentally killed the kidnappers and the remaining girl find themselves in a struggle to survive a road that seems to be cursed by some malevolent presence that doesn’t want to see them escape.

American Ghost Story reminds me of Dead End if you crossed it with The Grudge (Ju-on).  The fact that the kidnapped girls are Asian gives away the fact that on dying they will become a creepy croaky ghost that hunts down the kidnappers and kill them quite Grudgingly…thankfully though this ghost is only a tool to add to the tension of the film.  I do have issues with the clichéd appearance and its Grudge styling, but my view really is get over it, this isn’t the first movie to do this.

Now that we get past the issue with the ghost, the road itself is a lot more effective than the ghost that haunts it.  Using the concept of it being never-ending and apparently cursed the film suddenly becomes more claustrophobic and creepy, especially the fact that the creature can only attack in the dark and there is minimal light to keep the characters safe (though they seem to survive in their vehicles too).  This allows for plenty of scenes where the creature tries to manipulate the characters into allowing them access or making them move into the darkness so that it can attack with its sharp claws.  This gives the ghost more credibility, with a deadlier feel which is nicer than just the fade to black style of The Grudge.

The main winner for the film though has to be the main twist, which I won’t spoil, but it does manage to bring everything together nicely, and explains some of the confusing scenes that we see sprinkled throughout the movie.  Again the twist is something that I’ve seen in other movies before, but it tends to fit this movie nicely actually tightening up the plot when it started to feel like it was losing focus on coming up with an ending that works.

There are many nice ideas in American Ghost Story that don’t come to fruition, and the fact that many things are borrowed from superior horror films do raise plenty of questions as the story unfolds, impressively though even if there isn’t much in the way of inventive horror, the tricks that it tends to use are done well and with a good set of actors who give good performances they hold the audience’s attention, selling the story where it matters.  In the end we are left with an entertaining film that has a good dose of gore and actually makes the audience feel content with an ending that actually surprisingly works well.  American Ghost Story may not offer much in the way of new, but what it leaves you with is some good old-fashioned horror.

**** 4/5

American Ghost Story is available on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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