Director: Courtney Solomon.
Cast: Rachel Hurd-Wood, James D'Arcy, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland, Matthew Marsh (II).
On more than one occasion in An American Haunting
, a girl scrapes her fingernails across a wood floor as an invisible poltergeist attacks her. The wood floor may not be a chalkboard, but it's close enough. The barely coherent narrative assemblage that is An American Haunting
is every bit as annoying. Somehow, director Courtney Solomon—whose only other credit is 2000's dismal Dungeons & Dragons
—attracted Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Rachel Hurd-Wood, and James D'Arcy to star in this simplification of the infamous (and hardly credible) "Bell Witch" case from the early nineteenth century, in which a poltergeist purportedly went to town on a cursed Tennessee family. Solomon introduces the story as the only recorded case of a spirit killing a human being and ends it by stating that many of the events depicted in the film have been documented "in over twenty books, and are purported to be true." Obviously, An American Haunting
attempts to capitalize on the success of The Exorcism of Emily Rose
, but this poorly paced, tiresomely repetitive fictionalization, complete with hackneyed so-called scares and a spring-loaded climactic secret, lacks both dramatic impact and historic credibility.