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 »
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]
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Based on the true story of the Bell Witch (an apparently well documented case in the US), An American Haunting is another absolute clunker from writer/director Courtney Solomon, the man who gave us the equally lamentable Dungeons and Dragons six years ago. I'm not in the habit of dishing out the lowest possible score to movies I review on IMDb, but this tedious tale of malevolent spirits is an exceptionally bad film that truly deserves a roasting.
Set in the early 1800's, the film centres around the Bells, a well-to-do Tennessee family who suffer from a series of 'terrifying' supernatural attacks after they are cursed by a local woman (believed by some to be a witch). Betsy Bell (Rachel Hurd-Wood), the youngest daughter is repeatedly targeted by the spirit; she is dragged by her hair, lifted off the floor, and slapped. Her father also suffers badly and his health deteriorates. Despite their best efforts, nothing seems to stop the awful disturbances.
After introducing the characters and establishing the basic premise, the film lapses into a succession of repetitive and not-in-the-slightest-bit-scary scenes in which Betsy is abused both physically and mentally by the 'ghost'. With risible special effects and some terrible directorial decisions (the pathetic ghostly POV is simply woeful), the film elicits more sniggers than screams.
Donald Sutherland sleepwalks his way through the role of patriarch, whilst Rachel Hurd-Wood comes off like a bargain basement Linda Blair, unable to convincingly portray the terror she is supposedly experiencing. Solomon, struggling to conjure up anything remotely creepy, chucks in a few obvious and ineffectual mechanical scares and then inadvisedly attempts a ludicrous 'twist' ending, which he completely botches.
A lot of people have criticised this film for not being true to the facts; I criticise it for being truly awful in pretty much every aspect.
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