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 »
In one scene the sky is shown with clouds, and an obvious jet stream or contrail streak to the left. See more »
This... entity... do you believe that it can read your mind?
No. But I do believe that it can hear our conversations, that's how it knows our every move.
But it is only present on this property!
[Richard raises his eyebrows, suggesting that if they leave without saying a thing, the entity probably wouldn't know, or follow]
See more »
A knockout, terrifying 'grab you by your throat' ghost story that recalls Jack Clayton's The Innocents and Robert Wise's classic, The Haunting.
Let's say it flat out, An American Haunting is the scariest, most intelligent ghost story to hit the screen in two decades. More original than The Others (which was a watered down cocktail of The Innocents and The Sixth Sense), and ten times more effective than the pallid The Exorcism of Emily Rose, An American Haunting wastes no time in setting itself up as a thriller with something more on its mind than just simply rehashing the same old grab bag scare tactics that every 'Exorcist' remake/rehash resorts to. Based on The Bell Witch, an apparently true account of demonic possession that resulted in the first recorded case of a ghost actually killing a human being over a hundred and fifty years ago in Tennessee, the film elevates itself by not wallowing in cheap tricks to scare you, and by always taking the high road. And, by doing so it creates it's very own world, a unnerving mood and an a undercurrent that prevails throughout until, when you least expect it - it strikes out, grabs you by the throat, and doesn't let go until the very last frame. The sheer terror of waiting and watching until the entire story unfolds (in a way you least expect) is so original and surprising, that by the time the finale hits you, it shatters you like no other horror film you've ever seen . The performances by Donald Sutherland and Rachel Hurd-Wood are first rate. It's their story all the way, and the beauty and generosity of the other actors subtle, effective performance (especially Sissy Spacek) is a testament to their respect of the material. But the real star of this film is director/writer Courtney Solomon. After having recovered from the bollocking he took for the impossible task of bringing Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie, to the screen Mr Solomon has rebounded with a story he was born to tell, and the result is an assured, first rate thriller, told with intelligence, force, style and wit. It's a roller coaster ride all the way, so fasten your seat belts. The audience I saw it with at the AFI Film Festival could not have been more responsive. You could actually feel the hair on the back of your neck standing up. The cinematography by master Adrian Biddle and the score by Caine Davidson are first rate, and help propel you into an unforgettable ghost story that will linger in your memory and haunt your dreams/nightmares for months after.
178 of 347 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?