Vacations are never a good idea. So many scary movies start with them and they never go well. One more example is 'American Gothic.'
Six friends go on vacation. This is fine except for plane trouble that causes them to land at a deserted island. They go exploring and find a small cabin. The owners come home to see these young city-slickers. Ma (Yvonne De Carlo) and Pa (Rod Steiger) are some God-fearing, backwoods people who have no use for modern conveniences.
Aside from kooky behavior, Ma and Pa have adult children who behave like children. A few fifty-somethings running around playing, getting into trouble means trouble for the guests. Soon, people start getting killed off by their hosts.
A title like this might make you think that it is a very dark, spooky film. That was what this examiner expected when he first heard of it many, many years ago. As it turns out, most of this takes place in the daylight, out in the woods. The rest of it occurs near and in a tiny little cabin. You know that there is something creepy in the basement, but the atmosphere never quite accommodates the scary ambitions.
The middle-aged 'children' initiate most of the violence and it's hard to really be frightened by them. They are almost comical. It's also hard to sympathize with most of the victims because they are rude to their hosts and don't adapt to the situation gracefully.
It's a shame that some of the kills are treated like a joke. They are silly which makes a little bit of sense when dealing with children who could be eligible for AARP memberships. Some of the murders are alright, but some of them are a tad vanilla or even off-screen. A late-game reveal isn't that surprising when you have seen more than a few of these movies but it is at least showing some horror initiative.
It's nice to see Steiger and De Carlo. The rest of the cast is mostly non-descript with the exception one of the 'outsiders' who has a poor track record with children. She is the only one who really has any distinct personality or demons to overcome.
Special features include: nothing.
'American Gothic' is a forgotten little horror movie. It's not terrible and has some accomplished actors but it just isn't scary, perhaps even bordering on a little dull. That is one of the worst things you can say about a horror movie.
Rated R 89 minutes 1988