An American Haunting

Late night last night, I saw An American Haunting, which is a horror movie based on true events, as mentioned at the end of the movie. Were it not for the”based on true events” tagline, I would not have seen this movie otherwise.

An American Haunting is set in Tennessee, USA in the 1800s, and revolves around the Bell family. John Bell gets into a dispute with a local lady Kate Bates over land ownership and slavery, after which Kate tells John that she will get even with him, especially with his young daughter Betsy. Soon after, John experiences weird hallucinations, and Betsy is soon haunted by some unseen evil spiritual force, who lifts her up by her hair and slaps her arounds, and removes bed covers from her. Betsy’s sister also witnesses the same events, as does the rest of the family. Professor Richard, who is Betsy’s school teacher, is the skeptical one in this, trying to come up with rational explanations, but even he succumbs to becoming a believer. Eventually, the truth comes out on what’s really happening, which leads to a death in the family.

The movie makes much noise about this case of haunting of being the only recorded in history where a spirit causes a death of a person, something which has never been witnessed or recorded before or since this particular case.

My comments.

First, this movie should not be compared to a far more superior movie called The Exorcism of Emily Rose. That movie and this movie are not related at all. That movie is about ‘possession’ and this movie is about ‘haunting.’ Two different things.

Secondly, I did some research on this movie, and it’s apparently based on a legend of the Bell Witch, which also gave rise to the very popular The Blair Witch Project. The Legend of Bell Witch upon which this movie is based is a legend, and some people have declared it just that: a myth. Skeptics have debunked the various reasons for the happenings in the Bell House.

Thirdly, the movie moved too fast for me, and did not give me enough time to indulge myself in what could have been creepy atmosphere thrills. Most of the thrills were the kind where everything goes quiet, and then a sudden jolt of loud music, which turns out to be something silly.

Fourthly, while a well made movie, I think they could have done better. It wasn’t scary at all, and felt more like a run of the mill movie. They could have indulged in more realism to really drive it home that this movie is based on real events, like they did with The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Finally, while I may have some negative comments, this movie is not a bad one.

3 out of 5; not too bad, but not too good either.

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