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Awesome: 9.84%
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5 reviews, 31 user ratings

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American Haunting, An
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by Doug Bentin

"Coming soon on the Sci Fi Channel"
1 stars

Sometimes, when I’m feeling annoyingly cute, I write my reviews in a way that matches the central style of the movie. The theory is that you will get a sense of how the film’s put together from the building blocks of the review. I thought about doing that with “An American Haunting” but I was afraid that I’d run out of clichés before I finished.

How about this instead:

For Sale: “An American Haunting” 1817 farm house and grounds in rural Pennsylvania. Formerly owned by John and Lucy Bell (Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek) who did everything in their power to make an enemy of the witch down the valley. The house is a lovely fixer-upper that comes complete with an incorporeal entity that sobs in the night, windows and doors that open and close by themselves, beds that vibrate on their own, and just generally enough spook movie clichés to fill three Exorcists, two Amityville Horrors, a couple of The Others, and a full season of Ghost Hunters.

For that’s what this feeble ghost movie is—a series of haunted house clichés strung together like the clinkers on a Wal-Mart charm bracelet.

The opening scenes, set in the present and concerning a long-lost letter relating the spooky tale of the family curse, or somedamnthing like that, is harder to believe than an election year tax cut plan, so let’s just flashback to 1817 Pennsylvania and the Bell farm.

Farm owner and part-time usurer John Bell (Donald Sutherland, who looks like he didn’t want to waste the long hair he wore in “Pride and Prejudice”) is found guilty by a church court of charging 20 percent interest when he sold some land to neighbor Kate Batts (Gaye Brown), locally reputed to be a witch. When he is allowed to keep the profit made from sale of lumber on the disputed property, Batts hints that Bell and his teen daughter may find themselves under a curse. That’s right, he’s been pissing off a witch named Batts. So how smart is that?

Soon, Bell and his wife Lucy (Sissy Spacek) begin hearing bumps in the night and daughter Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) has her blanket pulled down by unseen hands, and she’s pinned to the bed by ditto, and she’s generally scared shitless every night but she never thinks to try moving into another room.

The family brings Betsy’s teacher Richard (James D’Arcy) in on the haunting. He’s a complete skeptic until the spook puts on its act in front of him. They drag in the local preacher to read the gospel as well, and that does about as much good as asking a blind man if this dress makes you look fat.

Bell goes to see Batts to beg her to lift the curse and she tells him that he brought it all on himself. Very helpful.

At this point the temptation to say that Bell invites Batts to his house for a fish fry is overwhelming. Then I could tell you that he has Batts in his Bell fry. Sorry. This is just one of those movies, you know?

Anyway, this is based on the supposedly true story of the only spirit that has ever actually killed anyone. I won’t tell which character in the film is snuffed by the haunting entity because my guess is that you don’t care.

Courtney Solomon wrote the screenplay and directed with all the creative imagination of a Xerox machine, and supervising sound editor Michel Bordeleau gets credit for the few scares the flick manages to generate.

This one won’t frighten you unless you have a real fear of boredom. If that’s the case, I pity you no end.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14509&reviewer=405
originally posted: 06/19/06 13:25:10
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell boring tacky trash 1 stars
4/08/11 Annoymous Waste of two lead actors, waste of storyline about incest=Bad Movie 1 stars
2/25/11 Mary Ann Schlacks Movie had scary moments, but incest explanation didn't make sense. 4 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! 5 stars
9/24/07 Burgerman One of the few great ghost movies, it doesn't rely on gore to scare you. Worth watching. 5 stars
7/21/07 Tankgirl Great ,scary movie! The ending stunk. I wish they did not make Sutherland out to be a creep 4 stars
6/26/07 Marion It was SO funny! Especially liked those excruciating slaps. 1 stars
6/10/07 Marls Just a sad waste of time when it could have been much better 2 stars
3/21/07 MeMyself and I I enjoyed this movie! Love Sissy. A rare good suspensful film without unnecessary gore. 4 stars
2/19/07 Christine I thought it was a great movie and I would watch it again. 5 stars
1/20/07 David A. Delightfully creepy movie that offers a possible explanation for the Bell WItch legend. 5 stars
12/27/06 David Pollastrini Brilliant, with a great twist 5 stars
12/04/06 Indrid Cold The same 2 or 3 scenes repeat ad nauseum and then bam! ... an out-of-nowhere twist ending. 2 stars
12/03/06 Traice There were jumps, but how many times did they make her sleep in that bedroom?! BAD ending! 2 stars
11/14/06 Melissa It was ok. Seems like they couldn't think of an ending & just threw something in to end it. 3 stars
11/03/06 Sam Kepfield BOOOOOOO! 1 stars
10/28/06 Mike Classic horror story. This is a REAL ghost story, not crap like Saw. For the mature only. 4 stars
10/24/06 farcemaster truly a waste of $1.05 via the Red Box DVD rental machine 1 stars
10/13/06 desu kind of sucked. 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant The only scary thing was Sissy Spacek's face. So disappointing. Couldn't wait for it to end 1 stars
6/30/06 SACRILEGE! An AMERICAN _____ movie without Mena Suvari. An M. Night Shyamalan wannabee that makes even his worst look relatively good. 1 stars
6/27/06 Ariadne Christina Renee Gladstone Dreary and unentertaining, plus it's a totally bogus morality play! John Bell not THAT evil 1 stars
6/04/06 Charles This movie doesn't even scratch the surface of the real story. So dissapointing. 1 stars
5/17/06 David the real story is actually scary. This movie is NOT. 1 stars
5/17/06 Alfred Guy The real account is much scarier and logical. 3 stars
5/16/06 John it seems like a decent short has been put on a loop and you watch it 100 times 2 stars
5/13/06 movi_critic what a waste of time and space, it went nowhere; the few "special effects" sucked. 1 stars
5/13/06 Mase Like being forced to ride "the haunted mansion" over and over for 2 hours. God awful 1 stars
5/13/06 David I am amazed how ignorant critics have become when it comes to brilliant movies these days. 5 stars
5/09/06 San Lamar Decent Horror Entry 3 stars
5/05/06 Heather Runyan great movie! 4 stars
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  05-May-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006



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