Sunday, January 17, 2016


AN AMERICAN HAUNTING (2005) is an entirely forgettable low budget horror film that has the look and feel of an extended episode of one of the countless "true" paranormal encounter shows that are a staple on many cable television channels. Allegedly based on the "true" story of the Bell Witch case in 1800s Kentucky, HAUNTING finds Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek going through the motions, wondering what the hell they're doing in this turd and cursing their respective agents for not getting them better jobs.

They've both done infinitely better genre work in their careers. Spacek did a terrific star turn in Brian DePalma's CARRIE (1976) while Sutherland was solid in both DON'T LOOK NOW (1973) and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978). Neither will want to put this turkey on their resume.

The film features a totally unnecessary framing sequence that takes place in the present day. The action then moves to the past where the family of John Bell (Sutherland) is put under a curse by a woman whose land the Sutherland's have "legally" stolen. The curse seems to center upon young Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) as she seems to be only person in the Bell household who is experiencing the increasingly violent series of unexplained phenomenon. Is there really a ghost or is Betsy merely manifesting some deep psychological issues into physical form?

The cinematography by Adrian Biddle is murky and director Courtney Solomon uses a variety of special effects (practical and CGI) to depict the paranormal. But the script (also by Solomon) is utterly routine and by the numbers. There are no scares to be found here, just a dark, gloomy "true" ghost story that is a total waste of time.

Thumbs down.

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