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 »
This movie is set in 1817-1820. Richard and Betsy were married "shortly after" Betsy's father died. The walls are adorned with their wedding photos, but photography was not introduced until 1839. Even then the pictures would have been small hand held daguerreotypes, not big framed enlargements. See more »
This should have been a Lifetime movie (or even an after-school special), since it felt exactly like that kind of overly sentimental dreck. Even the actress playing the mother in the present day looked like she stepped out of a beginning acting class for The Very Sad Divorced Wife (i.e., big bulky sweater, mussed hair, a bottle of vodka next to her on the desk).
How disheartening to see a film that could have been a great period piece end up as a big-screen version of every "victim of the week" TV movie, circa 1992. One point in its favor: excellent set design (it's nice to see a movie set in the South that doesn't automatically recall the plantations of _Gone with the Wind_). But overall, what a sad, stupid waste of Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland's talents.
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