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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had looked forward to watching this film ever since I first learned
that it was being produced locally in the Great Smoky Mountains. And I
finally got to watch it at a screening in East Tennessee yesterday. But
I was sorely disappointed.
The story of the Bell Witch is a very interesting tale based upon certain documented events, of an apparently supernatural nature, which transpired in Middle Tennessee during the 19th century. There is a lot of room in the telling of this tale for drama, suspense, and horror, but unfortunately, first-time feature film writer/director, Shane Marr, managed to deliver very little of any of these.
In fact, the script for this film was, at best, amateurish. It failed to develop any of the characters clearly enough to elicit audience sympathy and failed to move the story forward at a compelling pace. Also, it was never quite clear to me from whose point of view the story was attempting to be told. My suspension of disbelief was constantly being destroyed throughout the film by the unbelievable dialog, illogical events, and unrealistic reactions of the characters to the bizarre circumstances surrounding them.
And unfortunately, the director's inexperience did not help this film any. For example, closeups of the actors that might have revealed hints of genuine emotion on their faces were virtually non-existent. And way too often, the point-of-view would gratuitously shift to that of the witch, first-person, and from a high, wavering vantage point. These witch-cam shots would always include a certain annoying green blur effect which was much more suitable for a fictional Indiana Jones-type adventure than a supposedly-true rural, 19th century ghost tale. And dare I comment on the variety of comic-bookish digital wipes used as scene transitions when the director was unable to come up with anything more creative?
With a few exceptions, the acting was not very good. A cast of very talented local and regional stage actors made up a large part of the cast and, quite honestly, I felt embarrassed for them. I hope they were paid well because it appears that they were hung out to dry artistically by the inexperience of the director. Several performances by otherwise respectable actors were ruined by the inappropriate use of stage acting techniques instead of the more subtle techniques which are appropriate for film. And this causes me to believe that the actors must not have been receiving any meaningful direction, which is a real shame.
But before you decide that everything about the film was bad, I will share with you its few redeeming points. The East Tennessee scenery was spectacular, the costumes and makeup were very good, and the lighting and camera work were top tier. But the best part of the film was actually its soundtrack, a collection of both original and traditional tunes performed by a handful of unique local professionals who know very well how to move an audience. The soundtrack was, quite frankly, among the best I have heard in any film.
So unless you are a film student who could use a quick lesson on how NOT to spend $3.5 million on your first film, I would recommend that you perhaps just buy the soundtrack and skip the film. Then you can save the rest of your money for a vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains and still have plenty of cash left over to make a truly entertaining movie.
Wasn't sure what to expect when I started watching this movie but I was pleasantly surprised. Good acting and Loved the music but the best part about this film is that I was able to watch it with my family and not worry about some woman running across the screen, no top on screaming profanity and covered in blood. They should make more family friendly scary movies like this one and I am a big Betsy Palmer fan from way back in the 50's and her voice was really creepy as the Bell Witch but what I also enjoyed was the DVD extras with Betsy talking about how she got into show business and some of her life experiences with acting. GennyJ55
I'm a Nashville native and had the opportunity to see the premiere of Bell Witch The Movie at the Ryman Auditorium in September of 2005...it was good. Being from Nashville, I'm familiar with the Bell Witch legend and have even made a trip or two out to the Bell Witch Cave with my friends. It's such a fun (and spooky) story on its own and this movie really follows the historical legend of the Bell Witch - which is nice to see. It also offers some cool bluegrass music and really amazing scenery (especially in HD which is how it was shown at the premiere). I don't have an HD player, but I'm looking forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD. Look forward to seeing it again.
I never leave comments but..
I just wanted to say I loved this film, it was as true to the legend as you could get being based on the 1890's Bell Witch Red Book by Martin Van Buren Ingram, the only difference is in the Red Book John Bells Boys discover some bones while farming and in the movie the boys discover bones in the cave, if you want to know more about the Bell With I suggest you read it and you can find it online.
If you are just looking for a good old fashioned ghost story then check out this film.
I have always loved the story of the Bell Witch. In fact I have a copy of the original Bell Witch book written in 1894 by M. J. Ingram. This is the true story,the way it really happened and this movie Bell Witch follows this book. I am so glad they did not change it like Hollywood always wants to do, the real story is scary enough. You can tell Big River Pictures did their research for the movie. I really liked how they took the audience back to the 1800's. Everything looked authentic. The story was well written,the movie was intense, but had some fun times, like a roller coaster ride. Loved the music... especially the songs that were written just for the movie...per the web site and the CD. It was shot beautifully, and all the acting was great! I have added this movie to my permanent collection...I do not know Shane Marr but want to thank him for making this movie..I recommend it to families and fans...but be warned...it will stick with you and it will scare you... Yes, I believe the Bell Witch is real!!
Being an avid fan of the BELL WITCH. I research any information about the Bell Witch. I want to say I was so pleased with how this movie was written and produced. I drove for a full day (each way) to see the special showing of BELL WITCH at a college in East TN. This was a special one time showing. The theater held about 350 people. I was so glad I got there early because it filled up immediately. There were about 100 people standing around the sides, finally an announcement was made about no one else could enter the theater per the fire Marshall. About 200 people were turned away. There were a few babies in the audience, but I did not hear a sound from any of them. I got on a back row (only place left)To my amazement I heard NO cell phones, NO talking, myself and the entire audience was totally into the movie. We all were terrified, laughed, and felt we were living a part of this movie. I know the story and the movie followed it to the letter.The movie was shot in High Definition (Awesome). The surround sound was scary, but the mixture of songs and music lifted the audience along with the story. The photography was breathtaking. Aerial shots of the Smoky Mountains were really something. The acting was truly amazing. I could not think of any famous actor I would replace with the actors in the movie. After the movie, people stood and applauded and filled the lobby, we talked about the Bell Witch and the movie. Almost no one did not leave for over two hours. Some of the cast was there and the Director, we all ask any questions and got autographs. I met Ms.Beverly Jones who played Kate, she was so nice, nothing like the Kate in the movie, she was scary in the movie, very nice and personal in public. Also Ms.Donna Pearson who played the Mother in the movie. She is exactly as she was in the movie. I really felt I knew her. We talked a long time. I ask the Director how he was able to stick with the story and how he made it so real. He said he had always heard of the legend and researched the story and he wanted to showcase mountain music. That he did... This is a really really good movie. Any Bell Witch Fan will be pleased that this movie was made. I do hope to someday to see it again on the big screen. I drove 12 hours each way, spent the night in TN and it was well worth the trip.
Despite some clever innovations (in marketing, not for the film making for SURE) this was putrid! The "story" of the Bell(e) Witch is well known in the Smoky Mountain area, but somehow much of the "facts" stated in this movie are merely legend at this time. This was presented in such a way as to villainize a woman who has never been proved to have conjured, called, or evolved into the entity found within this cave. You would be hard put to find anyone locally who would dispute that there is, indeed, SOMEthing in that cave, but I am highly disbelieving of the story as it was herein told. Sorry, Cinemarr, but this was about the lowest-classed production on film since Abomination by Brain Dead Productions. It doesn't rate a rating from... the Fiend :.
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