With all of the lackluster mummy movies that have come out in theaters over the past 20 years, I was ready for a mummy film to be truly scary again. I’ve had enough of the action/adventure route that most of these films have taken. Practically out of nowhere comes this little indie film known as American Mummy. Was it everything I had hoped for? Read on to find out!
American Mummy is about a group of university students in the New Mexico desert unearth an ancient mummy, on which one of the students performs a secret, primeval blood ritual. This awakens the death-hungry spirit of the Aztec Lord Tezcalipoca, intent on finishing his centuries-old reign of terror. Soon, the mummy’s curse possesses the students’ souls, turning them against each other in a bid to spread his evil to the entire world.
Distributed by Wild Eye Releasing, American Mummy was directed by Charles Pinion (Red Spirit Lake) and was co-written by Pinion and Greg Salman (Adventures in Pornoland). The film stars Suziey Block (Entrance) as Professor Jensen, Aidon Bristow (Criminal Minds) as Max, Aaron Burt (Philophobia) as Derek, Esther Canata (Love Rome) as Carmen, Erin Condry (Belief) as Connie, Jack Grimmett (Honeymoon) as Phillip, Rudy Marquez (Criminal Minds) as Jose, Peter Marr (The Real Luke Skywalker) as Albert, Jennifer June Ross (The Bunnyman Massacre) as Becca, Greg Salman as Dr. Lobachevsky, and Rigo Obezo (Amateur Night) as Aztec Priest.
Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed was the setting. American Mummy was filmed mainly in Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley, California, which I feel really works for the film. The desert setting gives off a feeling of isolation, even though the characters are out in the open. That sense of isolation works well for the entire film. You get that the main characters have no choice but to confront the situation in front of them. However, that is one of the few things that truly worked in this film.
A part of American Mummy that didn’t work for me was the second half of the story. The first half had me intrigued, with the group of students and their Professor excavating an ancient tomb. What they end up finding is the ancient sarcophagus of the Aztec Lord Tezcalipoca. The sarcophagus itself is finely detailed and looks incredible. Unfortunately, that is pretty much all of the mummy that we get to see in this film. The later half revolves around the students becoming possessed and acting like zombies, who in turn infect the others. This is where the film lost me. I was expecting a mummy film and ended up getting zombies.
On top of the latter half of the story being a disappointment, the characters themselves were, for the most part, unlikable. Not only that, but they were poor actors as well. I felt nothing for any of them when they were in peril. Unfortunately, the acting gets worse once they get possessed, to the point where I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Now, let’s talk about the score. The theme music playing over the beginning credits sounded like someone playing a Sitar and it kind of gave American Mummy an Egyptian feel. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only music in the whole movie, just being played over and over again… to the point that I realized that it wasn’t actually a Sitar, but some type of keyboard. After hearing the same music for the entire runtime, it became very grating to my ears. So much so, that I knew the music beat by beat by the end of the film.
Though the story was a let down and the acting and score were amateurish, I did appreciate some of the effects that went into American Mummy. Julie Pound and Keri McCafferty did some pretty amazing work with the special effects makeup. Offering up some rather bloody moments in a few of the scenes, from a person getting ripped in half to a beheading, the film had enough to appreciate in this department.
Now, would I say this is a bad film? Technically speaking, yes. However, it does have some entertaining moments to it and was well paced. I honestly never felt bored through the entire runtime which, given some of its faults, could have made it an endurance test. American Mummy has something oddly charming about it, where I would say it is at least worth a rental.