I must preface my review with a statement: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY is not what I was expecting, and that is certainly a good thing. After the first 10 minutes, I was expecting to hate it…the acting is not that great and the story sounded very generic. BUT…I am sooooo glad that I finished it because this film is actually a top notch ghost story that made me jump on several occasions. It is not a big budget picture, so the acting can be overlooked; but where it lacks in budget, it makes up for with innovative style and excellent scares.
If you are not familiar with AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures:
Paul Anderson (Stephen Twardokus) and his girlfriend Stella (Liesel Kopp) move into a house that is well known for being haunted. Paul, a struggling writer, plans to write his first novel about his experiences with the paranormal. What starts out as a fun and exciting adventure, soon takes a very dangerous turn. They quickly realize some things are better left alone, and what you can’t see, can hurt you.
I read several negative reviews about this film after I watched it, and I can see where some of those reviewers were coming from. The actors are not of the highest caliber and the story is a bit slow in some parts. But if you can overlook both of those, you’re in for a real treat here.
AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY is shot well for a low-budget feature and has some nifty camerawork throughout. Surprisingly, there is no gore in this film at all, however the rest of the special effects (specifically, the ‘ghost’ scenes) are well done and very creative. Whereas some films use CG or even regular animation to show the ghosts, director Derek Cole bends the genre mold a bit and decides not to show them…technically (you just have to watch the film to understand). This, in turn, creates an even more haunting atmosphere in which to scare the audience.
And the scares are nice! There’s a lot of tension built into the story and the character of Paul does a great job of fleshing it out. His obsessive quest to interact with the spirits ultimately leads to bad things, which we get to see and enjoy. The buildup is a bit slow at times, but once things start going, they don’t really stop.
Unfortunately, I can’t give AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY a perfect rating. The acting in some aspects really is downright terrible. I hate to point fingers at individuals, but Liesel Kopp does not do a good job in her role. I feel like she spends more time trying to avoid eye-contact with the camera and less time acting.
But that is a mild downside for such an effective horror flick. Look past the rough exterior and see the gem that lies within AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY. I recommend giving this one a shot. You will probably never look at bedsheets the same way again!