Be forewarned, don’t be fooled by the title or cover art for this 2014 directorial debut from Joseph O’Brien. Metrodome have decided to market this film as if it belongs to the twisted and darkly surreal anthology series American Horror Story (2011-present).
Judging by the uninspired title alone, it’s clear the distributors are attempting to attract the attention of fans of the Ryan Murphy produced series but not only that, the cover and DVD menu is a direct rip off the white statue with black liquid dripping from its eyes from fan favourite series 2 Asylum.
As established American Horror Story it isn’t and trust me you’d rather be watching double bill episodes of that over the 88 minutes of the pure contrived mess on offer here.
After digging around it was discovered that the lazy title of American Ghost Story is not in fact the film’s true title. It’s actually called Devil’s Mile but obviously here in the UK we need to ride on the trend of something popular and established to take notice of something…and be subsequently duped.
Devil’s Mile does include a very poorly done CGI ghost that generates more laughs than it intends to for its panicked unlikeable victims. All the clichés are in place, predictable jump scares- check, supposed creepy music-check, and sound effects that are an evident rip off The Grudge, check!
Devil’s Mile (AKA. American Ghost Story) has been described as ‘Lynchian’ and ‘Lovecraftican’ and even if inspired by elements of their styles it’s still punching above its weight with these comparisons as all that remains here is a chore of a film to get through. Using these terms is almost as misleading just like the cover art as previously discussed.
The main plot: three bickering and obnoxious kidnappers played by equally obnoxious actors delivering hammy performances (in a bad acting kind of way) attempt to drive two teenage hostages to their apparent ‘scary’ and ‘threatening’ boss. Along the highway things go awry as murder and mayhem await with events not going quite to plan, cue terrible CGI effects that look more like graphics from a first person shooter than any realistic or well-crafted gore. Characters yell “f**k you” a lot throughout (an example of the clearly thought out dialogue and character development!!).One character in particular constantly rants that she needs to relieve her bodily fluids.
The plot barely moves along and it just feels stuck; I understand we’re in a Bermuda-triangle scenario but there doesn’t seem to be any real threat to keep us engaged with it. There’s a scene toward the final act where the female kidnappers share ‘revelations’, it’s tough to even make out what they’re saying as they quietly whisper, for dramatic effect, I guess? With no empathy for anyone involved or a single care for the plot, Devil’s Mile just grates as it becomes more predictable by the minute. It lacks structure and becomes nonsensical as the end approaches and with that becomes even stupider!
It’s attempts to play out as a ‘gritty crime thriller’ and ‘supernatural chiller’ hybrid doesn’t gel at all and makes it more unbelievable than anything as both components make it feel like it’s a completely different film from what you began watching and not in the vein of Kill List. This Bermuda-triangle, lost highway plot has been done much better in other films, a standout being the underrated, genuinely frightening Dead End (2003) starring Ray Wise and Lin Shaye.
Devil’s Mile, American Ghost Story, whatever you want to call it is plain horrendous and a reminder of what a shame it is when decent, well made films struggle for distribution. It’s not bad in a so bad its good Troll 2 way, it’s just completely awful.