An American Haunting – Rating 2 out of 5

An American Haunting – Rating 2 out of 5

At around 80 minutes this movie is over before it really gets started.

We start off with a young girl running through the snow covered woods of Tennessee trying to flee from some unknown force. She scurries up to her room, locks the door and waits for the terror to pass. She is then shattered out of her dream and back to reality by her mom.

The mother finds some papers and a doll and begins to investigate matters. It’s always better to do the “Nancy Drew bit” with a bottle of Absolut at your side. So off she goes.

We then jump back to the 1800’s to the home of John Bell (Donald Sutherland). We find he has committed the terrible act of usury. He has charged 20% interest to Kate Batts in regards to the sale of some land.

During a quickie court proceeding Bell’s good name is tarnished and that is punishment enough. Not content, Batts slaps a curse on Bell and his daughter. That’s when trouble starts.

The daughter is then plagued by demons who proceed to tie her up, slap the crap out of her and drag her all over the house by her hair. Of course the drunken preacher reads from the good book, antagonizes the spirit and tries to make it go away. The father sinks into depression because he can’t help his daughter and more evidence is uncovered to prove Kate Batts put the whammy on the girl.

There is some good atmosphere to this movie and some great scenery, but overall this movie is confusing and stiff. Very little is done to save the girl and pretty much everyone stands around letting the spirit do whatever it wants. There is a lot of screaming in the dark, lots of thuds, plenty of thrashing on the part of the girl and even a wicked chase scene involving a horse drawn coach.

But overall this movie goes nowhere. Is the girl possessed? Will there be an exorcism? Will the rest of the town be involved? Will someone be branded a witch?

To put it simply, no. The movie goes nowhere until we jump to the present for the end of the movie where we get some implication that the father is the one who terrorized the girl (possibly due to some father/daughter rape/incest or some such which is never explained). In the end, the Vodka soaked mother is now traumatized that her daughter is in danger as she leaves to visit her father (again, no explanation for any of this, did we even know she was married/divorced?).

There was a lot of potential in this movie and plenty to work with since it was based on true events, but this is poor execution, a vague plot riddled with holes, stiff acting and ultimately we go nowhere. Very disappointing and not even worth watching for its scare factor.

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