Fantastic Fest: The American Scream


The American Scream is a documentary that follows three home haunters in Fairhaven, MA. What is a home haunter, you might ask? These are people obsessed with converting their homes into extensive and elaborate haunted houses every Halloween. The process often takes months of planning and building. There’s an entire subculture of people in American that do this. Michael Stephenson (director of Best Worst Movie) and Austin’s own Zack Carlson (producer of The American Scream) finds three of these wonderful eccentrics all in one small east coast town.

The film covers the lead up to Halloween, the struggles of each family to successfully complete their projects, the technical and emotional struggles of the families, how they overcome them to bring their dreams into reality, and then ends in the big night with a great scream montage. Needless to say everyone reached their goal of scaring the pants off their friends, neighbors, and anyone else that came by. And these guys are pretty well known in their neighborhood for what they do, so a LOT of people came by.

The Home Haunters are:
Victor Bariteau– an IT guy by day, and a house haunting perfectionist pretty much all the rest of the time. His home haunting is his true passion and his attention to detail is stunning (and possibly a bit stress inducing). He has a wonderfully supportive family and watching them together is, quite frankly, adorable.

Bariteau Family
The Bariteau Family
victor and catherine bariteau
Victor with his daughter, Catherine

Victor Bariteau Workshop
Victor in his workshop

Manny Souza– a friend of Victor’s who was inspired by Victor to do his own house haunting. His approach is a little more lackadaisical but no less effective. He is the king of the bargain hunt and a bit of a slave driver with his kids who are helping out, but it quite obviously brings them all closer together as a family.

Manny Souza
Manny Souza setting up his haunt
Manny Souza's Yard
Part of Manny’s yard

Matt and Richard Brodeur – a father son duo who try to bring a little Laurel and Hardy to their house haunting. And indeed the two of them together seem to channel a bit of that famous duo naturally as they bicker over the building of an ill fated tentacle monster or the balancing of spooky dolls on a motorized see-saw. They lack a lot of the more technical skills of the other two, but they have an immense amount of heart. In fact they raise money for the Shriner’s Hospital with their haunting and clowning skills.

Rick Brodeur
Rick Brodeur gets ready to haunt

Each family has their own charming idiosyncrasies and I found myself loving each one of them for very different reasons. The film is very well put together, never seems to lag and I’ll be recommending it to all my Halloween loving friends this year for sure.

The American Scream debuts on The ChillerTV network Sunday, October 28th at 8pm (ET).

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me