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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Saw III is a sellout. What started a series of movies with a decent plot and a nice twist ending has now turned into nothing more than a hack and slash movie. The movie goes all out for the gross and gore factor, but the plot is thin and quite frankly, stupid.

Amanda has kidnapped a doctor and forces her to keep Jigsaw alive. Meanwhile a father who has lost his son in a car accident faces those people who were involved in the crime.

The traps are lame and are just meant to show torture. There is actually no way to escape them so the tension of the movie is lost. Even in this gruesome game if you can’t win, there is no point in playing.

The father comes face to face with those he should learn to forgive. They were all part of his sons death, but there is no way to bring him back. This message is lost on the father and he blindly walks through the house of horrors seeking his revenge on those who crossed him. With no change in the character as he faces these trials the movie becomes boring and even though the traps illicit the maximum pain and cringe factor the movie doesn’t lead anywhere.

The factors that made the first two movies so good has been thrown away and we are left with nothing but a series of gory scenes designed to show off diabolical traps rather than “the will to survive”.

We also get so many flashbacks showing how the first movie was done and how the characters were setup. It’s interesting background but does nothing for the story. We pretty much knew all this from the way the second movie ended. Too much time is spent justifying why Jigsaw does his evil deeds and how he makes his elaborate plans. Again, it’s interesting, but it doesn’t advance the story. If anything is slows it down and make it appear the film was too short so all this material was added to stretch the time.

Saw III is not as good as its predecessors, and it doesn’t have the same thrill of an ending. If anything the ending is something we’ve seen before and isn’t very shocking. The movie does gore for gore’s sake and the idea of tangible plot has been thrown out the window. It’s worth watching just to tie up some loose ends, but overall it doesn’t compare to the first two. Had this been the original movie, Saw would have been forgotten long ago.

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Saw II

Saw II

Saw II begins (and ends) right where the other movie left off. A group of strangers have been thrust together and must learn to trust each other in order to get out. We learn right from the beginning that Jigsaw has captured Eric’s (Donnie Whalberg) son and put him in with the cast of misfits to play the game.

Eric has to watch on the monitors as his son moves around the unknown house watching the tests and trials he has to suffer. You can feel the rage building as Jigsaw sits calmly and quietly trying to talk to Eric. He slowly explains his motives which just incites Eric all the more. Eventually is ass-kicking time and Eric is on a full rampage to make Jigsaw tell him where his son is.

Meanwhile those who are trapped in the house are slowly dying of a nerve gas. They of course bicker and fight and if they would just work together for 10 seconds they could probably come up with a plan. But that wouldn’t make everyone suspicious of each other and further make “every man for himself”.

The main frustration is the characters not working together and not stopping for even a second to consider what to do next. They go around smashing walls and breaking everything in sight without thinking of the consequences. The movie is a little more obvious than the first on how things will turn out, but it’s still a tension filled movie with plenty of twists and painful traps. The one with Amanda in the pit of hypodermic needles had me on edge.

But again, this movie has a point. What are you willing to do to save someone else? Will you control your emotions or be ruled by them? Will you forgive or act out revenge?

Like the original this has a nice twist ending that gets you excited about watching the movie again. You get frustrated with the stupidity, but you know that’s exactly how someone would act in that set of circumstances.

A great sequel which delivers plenty of what was great about the first one. Certainly a lot more gore in this one, but then again, they had a bigger budget this time around.

I see this movie all over the place for around $5 as well so you should definitely put it on the list.

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Saw is perhaps one of the most original horror movies to come in recent memory. It went with a minimalist approach in characters, sets and scope.

I didn’t first see Saw until well after it came out on DVD. It was coming close to Halloween and after dozens of people were talking about it I put it on my list to watch. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Everyone knows the story – two guys locked in an unknown room and they need to try and get out. But what will they do to save themselves? Why are they here? Who is the other person, friend or foe?

The tone of Saw is tense and gripping. What will these two men do to get out? Can they trust each other? Can they work together and get out? Who is going to kill who in order to save themselves?

We get several flashback scenes that help to understand the motives. We get to understand that Jigsaw is looking to make the men repent and redeem themselves. But the part that makes Saw different is the fact that there is a plot behind it all. There is a reason these men are here. There is a reason they are made to suffer.

And of course as we hit the end of the movie we see it’s all just a game. A well thought out, diabolical game.

The acting is a little stiff and some observations during the movie don’t need to be said out loud, we all can see what the saw will be used for. But overall this is a good movie and is definitely full of chills and tense moments. Lionsgate really garnered publicity by bringing this movie to light. And now they have a whole horror genre at their disposal.

Saw is one of the better horror movies out there and despite some quirks it’s a still a great movie to watch. Hell it’s on sale practically everywhere, there is no reason not to get a copy. I got mine for $5. :)

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