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An American Haunting (PG-13)

Release Date: May 5th, 2006 by After Dark Films.
The Cast: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Rachel Hurd-Wood, James D’Arcy, Matthew Marsh, Thom Fem, Sam Alexander, Gaye Brown, Zoe Thorne.
Directed by Courtney Solomon.

BASIC PREMISE: In 1818, a poltergeist torments the Bell family in their Tennessee home. Based on true events.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The plot begins in the present as teenage girl discovers an old letter and immediately has supernatural experiences. Flashing back to 1818, the rest of An American Haunting focuses on the Bell family. John Bell (Sutherland) upset one of his employees by stealing her salary, so she vows to put a curse on his family. Soon enough, Betsy (Hurd-Wood) experiences the supernatural when her blanket slides off her bed in the middle of the night and she gets tossed around the room. Lucy (Spacek), her mother, is initially doubts the existence of a haunting, but changes her mind as Betsy continuously gets tormented. Eventually, John experiences visions of a wolf in his backyard. The Bell family requests the assistance of Richard (D’Arcy), Betsy’s skeptic teacher who believes that there’s a logical explanation for everything. Everyone delivers a convincing performance, especially Rachel Hurd Wood who knows how to scream quite well. Anyone who has seen The Exorcist will feel like they’re watching it all over again. It also feels reminiscent of The Others and The Entity. Writer/director Courtney Solomon includes a few scenes that gradually build tension with the musical score and generates some genuine scares. She doesn’t rely on any gore, which helps to give the film a PG-13 rating. Solomon relies more on creating an eerie atmosphere and succeeds for the most part. The well-chosen settings and costume designs are very impressive. However, the over-use of special effects and fast-paced editing creates a nauseating experience at times. More often than not, it’s easy to anticipate the “scary jolts” which are meant to be surprising. The only surprise comes at the end and brings an interesting twist to the story without adding any real drama. Still, the ending will send chills down your spine—especially since it's all based on true events.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.



IN A NUTSHELL: Derivative, occasionally over-edited, but atmospheric and chilling. The most frightening horror film since The Others! It will haunt you for days!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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