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AN AMERICAN HAUNTING
USA: Freestyle Releasing
UK: Lionsgate Films
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, James D'Arcy, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Thom Fell, Matthew Marsh, Sam Alexander, Zoe Thorne, Miquel Brown, Shauna Shim, Lila Bata-Walsh, Howard Rosenstein
Director: Courtney Solomon
UK: 91 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for intense terror sequences and thematic material
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong supernatural horror
USA Release Date: 5 May 2006
UK Release Date: 14 April 2006
AN AMERICAN HAUNTING rivals that of the SIXTH SENSE and THE OTHERS, and leaves you in utter shock. Based on the true story of The Bell Witch of Tennessee, about which thirty-five books have been written, AN AMERICAN HAUNTING tells the story of a spirit which attacked the wealthy and highly respected Bell family for four years eventually causing the death of one of its family members.
In 1818, the Bell family began to experience disturbances on their property. At first, these were slight, unexplained noises, sounds of labored breathing, and footsteps walking through the house. As time progressed, the nature of the disturbances escalated. The spirit began to grow, as if it were a child maturing. It became aggressive, singling out John Bell, the father of the family, and his only daughter Betsy. The attacks on Betsy were vicious, horrible and unstoppable with her being brutally beaten on a regular basis.
The family desperately searched for the cause of the spirit in the hope of finding a way of defeating it and saving their daughter. Everyone became a suspect from the well-meaning schoolteacher Professor Powell, who lived on the Bell farm and harbored a secret love for Betsy, to Kate Batts, the Bell neighbor who held a grudge against the Bell family and whom everyone suspected was a witch. But, all their efforts resulted in dead ends, and the attacks continued and the events started taking a toll of the family's health, especially that of John.
They resorted to an "exorcism" of sorts, tried moving Betsy from the house, but the spirit continued it's brutal assault and had the ability to be anywhere and everywhere. Each attempt by the family to disrupt the spirit resulted in its powers escalating, and the appearance of new horrors. Betsy was visited by a mysterious ethereal girl and stalked by a fearsome black wolf. The spirit developed voices and began speaking to the family, refusing when asked to say why it is there or when, if ever, that it would leave. It pronounced judgment on Betsy's proposed marriage to young Joshua Gardner, breaking up the engagement party and forbidding her marry him. Then, finally it pronounced a death sentence on John Bell. Within a year, he was dead with the spirit proclaiming, "I finally got him." Shortly, thereafter, the spirit disappeared, leaving the Bell family in peace, but never the same.
It would not be until fifteen years later, once Betsy had married Professor Powell and had children that we would be taken back to the terrible night the spirit was born and find out the horrific truth about its nature and origin.