An American Haunting Review
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[An American Haunting]
Plot:Based on true events which occured in the state of Tennessee where a spirit is believed to have caused the death of a man. The town in which it happened has feared the return of the unseen spirit since 1818.
My Thoughts:Good supernatural horror film that relies on storytelling more than anything else.
Review:"An American Haunting" is one of those rare supernatural horrors that doesn't rely on fancy camera tricks or cgi to show the audience all of the tricks an omnipotent entity or spirit can do. The thing to like most about this movie is how it relies on a blend of good storytelling and shockingly brutal attack scenes to keep the viewers interest. The film concerns true events which occured in 1818, where an evil spirit caused the death of a man, and it went down in history as the infamous "Bell Witch Haunting" due to the last names of the family in question. In this film, the Bell's are played by veteran actors Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek.
Their daughter is played by Rachel Hurd Wood. After a land dispute between John Bell (Sutherland) and a local woman who was rumored to be a witch, John's daughter begins to suffer heinous and vicious attacks by an unseen spirit. The attacks increase in their ferocity, and frequency as the days go by, and soon the entire Bell family themselves begin to come under attack from the entity. The non-stop attacks coupled with the timing of it all, leads john to believe that his family has been cursed by the woman who he had the recent dispute with. The attack scenes while very well done and very impactive, are not the shining point of the film. But rather the storytelling is. Usually in films like these, the story falls flat, the dialogue is awful, and the audience is relegated to sitting back and waiting for the next time the ghost or entity attacks so something exciting and worthwhile can happen. But "An American Haunting" through narration and strong character dialogue does an excellent job of keeping the movie interesting and grabbing the viewers attention even when the evil spirit isn't present in certain scenes. It also gives you a story to focus on as it unfolds with a few twists at the end, which you have to pay attention throughout in order to understand when they finally pan out. The performances are also a huge plus in this film. Donald Sutherland does an excellent job as the strong, rarely shaken John Bell, and Sissy Spacek does a fine job as the supportive and sensible Lucy Bell. Rachel Hurd Wood ends up stealing the show a bit in her role as Betsy Bell, their daughter. Her best scenes come during her characters nighttime encounters with the wicked entity, and her very well acted emotional scenes after the encounters. "An American Haunting" does become a bit repetitive by the time act two rolls around but the third act of the film rescues it from falling into that trap by shifting the story into high gear with a very well done and awesomely directed scene that takes place in the woods, where John and his son are trying to spirit Betsy away from the evil spirit only, to have the spirit track them down and attack the carriage they're riding in. "An American Haunting" offers up a full plate with great performances, intense scenes, above average storytelling which sometimes becomes the films only leg to stand on, and all of this is set to very good looking sceneries which set the moods and tone nicely for most of the movies action scenes to unfold in very stylish fashion. If you're looking for buckets of blood and gore "An American Haunting" won't be up your alley, since it's PG-13 and relies more on good storytelling than loads of violence. But if you're looking for a supernatural horror film that actually tells a good story while still pandering to the thrillseeker portion of it's audience, then you might want to check this movie out.
Pros:Great setting, strong performances, excellent storytelling, and very well done spirit attack scenes.
Cons:Sometimes the film slows down too much that the story becomes the only thing that holds it together.
Overall:Intriguing and interesting supernatural horror flick that doesn't rely on the usual things such as blood and gore to entertain it's audience. In short...it's more of a thinking horror fans film.
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