An American Haunting
Film: An American Haunting
Director: Courtney Solomon
Writer: Courtney Solomon
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek and Rachel Hurd-Wood
This film begins in present time. There is a teenager that is running from something; she is played by Isabelle Almgren-Doré. We do not see anything following her, but she is terrified. She goes into a house. She then wakes up in her room screaming. Her mother, who is played by Susan Almgren, enters the room and calms her down. While she is in the room, she finds a doll, a letter and a journal. The mother learns that she found it in the attic and scolds her for going up there, telling her that she knows not to be up there. She takes the items into her room and then begins to read.
The narrator is voiced by James D’Arcy. He sets the stage that takes place in Tennessee back in 1818. We follow a family with the father played by Donald Sutherland, his wife is Sissy Spacek and they have quite a few children. Their oldest is played by Thom Fell and their eldest daughter by Rachel Hurd-Wood. Her best friend is played by Zoe Thorne. She also has a boy who is in love with her played by Sam Alexander.
Sutherland and Gaye Brown are in a land dispute. It appears that Sutherland and Brown had a deal where Sutherland was charging too much and had to forfeit the deal, due to church law. As they are leaving, Brown puts a curse on him as well as Hurd-Wood. Everyone around the area believes that she is a witch.
The issues begin with Spacek hearing something moving around in the attic. She goes to investigate and she runs into Sutherland. During their interaction, we learn that Spacek is a heavy sleeper and doesn’t hear Sutherland get out of bed.
There are other weird things that happen. Sutherland and Fell try to go hunting, but Sutherland is stalked by a wolf. He shoots it, but it disappears. Later he sees a woman that disappears every time he looks in her direction. He also sees something on his roof.
It starts to get worst though and really starts to torture Hurd-Wood. At first it begins to just pull her blankets off, open and close her door before it pulls some of her hair out.
We then see Hurd-Wood in school. She usually is a good student, but she has been falling asleep in class. We learn that it is due to the haunting that is keeping her up. We also learn that her teacher is also played by D’Arcy. While on recess, Hurd-Wood swings and sees a little girl sitting next to her. She tries to touch her and ends up falling. When she gets up, she asks Thorne and Alexander if they saw her and they tell her that they didn’t.
Sutherland invites a minister to his house to bless it, hoping they can get the ghost to go away. They believe they beat it, but the haunting gets even worse. Hurd-Wood is pinned to her bed and her legs are spread. She gets pulled and drug around her room to where she is held up by her hair. She gets away, but then it holds her up by her arms and then she is slapped back and forth. The door to the room closes while her family tries to break in.
The family does whatever they can to stop the curse, yet it gets progressively worse and not even D’Arcy can explain what is happening. Brown won’t take back what she did, but is she the one that is causing this? Will they survive this curse or will it kill them? What is causing it? Why is it happening now in the present as well?
I have to say that being based on true events makes this one a little bit creepier. That can create some problems, but this one gets around it by creating its own twist on the reason why this is happening. I think Sutherland, Spacek, D’Arcy and Hurd-Wood are pretty good. I don’t think any of them are great, but they are believable. There are some creepy parts, but there was never really anything that really scared me though. The film can be somewhat scary if this was really happening to someone as well. I do think that there is a decent ending and a twist to the film as well.
My problem with this film is that it is based on true events, which means some of what we saw did happen. The thing is though that most of what happens in this film is made up to make the film more entertaining. The problem with that is I feel what happens was just a little bit boring. The film fails to create tension and I really never connected with the characters to feel bad for them. I think that this comes from they didn’t do enough to flesh out the characters. I never felt like there were any really scary parts in this one either. I think they have some parts they meant to make you jump, but they do not achieve it and the creepy parts never really do enough either. The film really just presents the story and doesn’t do a whole lot more than that.
This film is not very exciting and I would not recommend seeing this one. If you want to a see a haunted house or a family being terrorized by a ghost, there are a lot better films out there. This one is set in the past, but there is a connection made to what is happening in the present as well. If you are interested in the Bell Witch story, I would give this one a viewing, but know that it doesn’t follow that story completely. I will give this one that it is the only documented haunting in American history, but don’t come in expecting to be scared. I would say that you could do better, but only watch this one if it sounds interesting or you are interested in the true events.
My Rating: 5 out of 10