Paul has decided to move into a home with his girlfriend, Stella, that has horrendous past -- a man murdered his entire family and then committed suicide. Knowing the home's and believing the rumors of supernatural activity. Paul wants to write a book based on his own experiences in the home and it seems like a good idea at the time. As the days pass the activity gets worse with the spirits becoming increasingly violent.
Stop me if you've heard this one before! Young couple Paul and Stella are moving into their first home together but a terrible crime was committed in that house years before and now the disembodied spirits reside in the home with Paul and Stella…Unfortunately, I had a hard time taking the movie seriously from the beginning, no thanks to Ronny pointing out how many American horror movies begin with a couple or a family moving into a home with a scary past.
Thankfully though, "An American Ghost Story", the latest movie from Derek Cole, tries picks itself up by its bootstraps and make the movie a little more interesting. Certainly it's on wobbly legs -- I mean, how many times has that story been done before in a supernatural horror movie -- but the kicker is that the characters know the home is haunted. Paul is looking to write a book based on his supernatural experiences but gets more than he bargained for. The spooky activity increases and goes from harmless moving of chairs to full blown apparitions that have a tendency to be violent.
I'm probably more lenient when it comes to ghost movies being typical since no matter how many I see, I still enjoy them since it's one of my favorite sub-genres. And while "An American Ghost Story" hits on so many of the genre clichés it did bring in a semi-interesting concept of having the new home owners already knowing the homes past and the fact that it's haunted. There is still the exposition in the movie that explains the situation, but when it comes to the actual haunt activity it can focus on building the atmosphere and the scares instead of feeding that backstory to the audience.
The movie also offered a nice change of pace, especially in comparison to modern horror movies, in that it doesn't actually show anything. For some reason, supernatural movies hit a turning point where they felt the need to always show the ghosts as nothing more than translucent zombies. Never building on unseen activity but showing goopy, gory and disfigured sub-creatures. The kind of thing that would make you hope there was no afterlife if that's how you were going to look. When it comes to ghosts and other spooky things, I think it is at its most effective when you don't see things. A play on shadows or moving objects. It might make it dull for others but it was nice to see a movie trying to do things in a more subtle manner. It especially works because the movie wants to build to the climax where Paul will have to face a manifestation of the spirits.
That's where the movie kind of lost me again. It's an area where I respect what they wanted to do, and did, but hate that they did it. I'm sure how the haunting-activity in the movie is played is do to budgetary constraint but it blew my mind (relatively speaking, of course) that when the ghost that is responsible for the more violent supernatural activity shows up is…covered in a bed sheet. Stop for a minute and take that in. I can't even recall the last time I saw movie that had a spirit covered in a bed sheet. And for a moment, it worked very well. It created an interesting image. Then it got silly. Especially when the ghost chases after Paul down a hallway. Again, I respect the drastic change in comparison to what's been done for over the past 10 years but…it's a ghost…covered in a bed sheet.
As a whole, "An American Ghost Story" isn't too bad. It features a decent enough production quality, the actors did their parts well and the movie has some good jump-scares and tension for a supernatural horror movie. It's too bad though that it loses steam towards the end and eventually spiraled into a realm of camp while attempting to do things differently. It may work for some and it does have some effective scare moments but it sadly didn't do anything for me. It is one of those unfortunate incidents where the whole movie is affected by a bad ending.