British actress Naomie Harris has been nominated for an Oscar for her role as a crack-addicted mother in the 2016 indie drama Moonlight. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some other roles she's played in her career.
In 2006, in Red River, Tennessee, a teenager has frequent nightmares. Her mother reads an old letter from 1817 written by her ancestor, Lucy Bell. After a dispute of lands judged by the church, her husband John Bell is cursed by his opponent Kathe Batts, who has a fame of being a witch. From this moment on, an entity threatens John and her daughter Betsy Bell, attacking the girl during the nights. With the support of Betsy's school teacher Richard Powell, who tries to find rational explanations for the manifestation; her brother John Bell Jr.; and their friend James Johnston, who unsuccessfully tries to exorcize the entity from the house, the family does their best to protect Betsy in the haunted house. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The movie is actually based on a purportedly true story. Andrew Jackson was quoted as saying, "I would rather take on the entire English Fleet than stay one night at the Bell House," however his presence at the house is disputed and there are no official records that confirm he was actually present or witnessed any supernatural activity. The haunting is documented in M. V. Ingram's 1894 book, An Authenticated History of The Famous Bell Witch. This movie was based on the book by Brent Monahan,The Bell Witch: An American Haunting the Famous Bell Witch. However, the Ingram book has been called into question by researchers, who have noted that it's based on secondhand accounts and that no firsthand accounts to the haunting survive, and records from the time have not supported the story of the haunting. The Ingram book calls on quotes from letters and diaries but those documents no longer exist (if they ever did) and it is impossible to verify if the haunting actually happened or if it was a hoax or an early urban legend. Some researchers have even raised the possibility that the Ingram book was actually a work of fiction now mistakenly believed to be a factual account. See more »
When the evil force is ripping the pages out of James Johnston's bible, it can be seen that each of the pages are in fact all the same. See more »
Acting. Thats the most noticeable thing you will find in this movie. All the characters have performed well and acted according to the period of the story. I haven't watched Bell Witch Haunting (2004) but I have read a lot about the original legend. Instead of retelling the actual event, this movie revolves around it, giving us an entirely different interpretation of the haunting. Also, it tells nothing about General Andrew Jackson who visited Bell's family during that time and later became the American President. Its worthy to note that he was once quoted as saying - "I'd rather face the whole British Army, than face the Bell Witch again".
Around 1818, a farming family living in Tennessee is haunted by a spirit, the most affected ones being the daughter Betsy and the father John Bell. While the father's health deteriorates, the daughter gets all poltergeistic treatment. Slowly, they suspect the woman (also witch?) Kate Batts who previously has some legal issues with John and curses him that he and his daughter will suffer for his deeds. The haunting gets worse and the family members try to fight back the ghost in their own ways. By the end, when they seem to have abandoned their faith, the spirit itself reveals the reason for its existence.
The scary scenes are predictable but good. The notable ones are the first major attack on Betsy, the swing encounter, Richard's questions, John's visions, the cave and the best of all is the chariot ride. Excellent cinematography. A few good things in this movie keep us on the edge and makes us wait for the best part. But that best part never comes.
The fictional ending, though unexpected and slightly shocking, is not conceived properly. The movie begins with a Night-Shyamalan-like atmosphere. Most of it feels like as if you are watching The Village. Later it goes on to remind us of The Poltergeist, The Exorcist, Child's Play and several others, even The Omen. The ending is tried in a Lynchian manner - just tried. Sadly, it doesn't register in us at all.
Overall, this movie has good acting, good cinematography, few honestly scaring scenes and a different interpretation to the original Bell Witch Haunting. Nevertheless, it has a confused screenplay, half-baked script and an overhasty direction. The slow scenes are empty and the fast scenes are packed. So the balance is knocked out and what results is boredom. Watch it for the good aspects but make sure to take lots of popcorn inside the theatre. You'll need them to stay awake.
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