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An American Haunting.

(1hr 30mins), Starring: Rachel Hurd-Wood, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland, Directed by: Courtney Solomon.

Based on allegedly true events chronicled in Brent Monahan's book, An American Haunting is a scary movie of sorts, in that the events chronicled here ( an early 19th Century family driven to the brink of insanity by a vengeful spirit ( must have been terrifying for those involved.

Alas, for cinema audiences, Courtney Solomon's film fails to chill right from the opening sequence, in which a young girl runs into her house, supposedly chased by some horrifying invisible force.

The relevance of this contemporary sequence to the events of 1818 is only revealed in the film's fleeting final moments, by which time we're hankering for a speedy exorcism.

Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek trade anguished wide-eyed stares as things go bump in the night, while Rachel Hurd-Wood, who made her mark as Wendy in the live action version of Peter Pan, faces the humiliation of being battered and bruised by her spectral attacker.

Solomon fails to generate tension and alternates between various points of view, including hallucinogenic sequences from the perspective of the spirit, swooping around the old farmhouse like an inebriated pigeon.

The allegedly true story of The Bell Witch of Tennessee concerns wealthy and highly respected John Bell (Sutherland), who lives with his wife Lucy (Spacek) and daughter Betsy (Hurd-Wood) in the sleepy community of Red River.

Visited by an unknown presence, the Bells suffer a mounting sense of dread, escalating into brutal physical and psychological torment as the invisible force lashes out at Betsy and her loved ones.

Fearing they may have been cursed by a local witch, John and Lucy try everything to banish the spirit but the unwelcome visitations only increase in their terrifying ferocity.

Schoolteacher Professor Powell, who harbours a secret crush on Betsy, and the Rev James Johnston try to rationalise the frightening phenomena but even they are forced to concede that something otherworldly now festers within the walls of the Bell household.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2006
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