Based on the true story of The Bell Witch of Tennessee, the story is of a spirit which attacked the wealthy and highly respected Bell family for four years, eventually causing the death of one of them.
In 1818, the family began to experience disturbances on their property. At first, slight, unexplained noises, but the spirit began to grow, becoming aggressive and singling out the father, John, and his only daughter Betsy. The attacks on Betsy were vicious and unstoppable with her being brutally beaten regularly.
The family desperately searched for the cause of the spirit in the hope of finding a way of defeating it. They tried exorcism and moving Betsy from the house, but the spirit continued its brutal assault. It developed voices and began speaking to the family, but refusing to say why it was there. Then, finally it pronounced a death sentence on John. Within a year, he was dead. Shortly, thereafter, the spirit left the family in peace, but never the same.
It would not be until years later that we would be taken back to the terrible night the spirit was born and find out the horrific truth about its nature and origin.
The official description of An American Haunting from Freestyle Releasing (who?) pegs it as based on a true story. So you know exactly which audience they're going for. Suckers. The superstitious. The kind of weirdos who actually believe this sort of thing. People who go out looking for the Blair Witch. You know who you are.
Count me out of that group, but there's something scary about American Haunting. Yeah I know, these days "scary" and "horror movie" don't always go together. But An American Haunting looks to have more in common with The Exorcist than When a Stranger Calls. Screeching teenage girls beware: this is not your movie.
What's particularly interesting about it is the setting. An American Haunting is doing what Spielberg's War of the Worlds screwed up. The film is set in 1818, the first horror movie in a long time not to be set in the modern world and thus plagued with annoying cell phones. And we�re not talking M. Night Shyamalan fake 1818 here either. Hold off on those Village flashbacks.
If there's one obvious mark against American Haunting, it's the film's director Courtney Solomon. This is his sophomore effort, his freshman attempt being the frighteningly horrible 2000 movie Dungeons and Dragons. But is it really fair to blame him for that abortion? There was no way a movie based on a hokey role playing game was every going to work anyway. Especially one saddled with the dregs of clan Wayans.
The past few years have been glutted with fresh, moneymaking, interesting horror movies. An American Haunting will debut later this year and try to add itself to that list of new wave horror positives. Maybe it'll be worth giving a shot.
Length: 91 min
MPAA Rating: [ TBA ]
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing LLC
Release Date: May 5, 2006
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Jamaes D'Arcy, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Produced by: Courtney Solomon
Written by: Courtney Solomon
if you're excited for An American Haunting