Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – An American Haunting (2006)


logoDirector: Courtney Solomon

Writer: Courtney Solomon (Screenplay) Brent Monahan (Novel)

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, James D’Arcy, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Matthew Marsh, Thom Fell, Zoe Thorne, Gaye Brown, Sam Alexander, Miquel Brown


Plot: Based on the true events of the only case in US History where a spirit caused the death of a man.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Written Found Footage Snorefest


Story: An American Haunting starts with a random girl running from something through snow filled landscape oh and it’s a dream. She has found old letters in the attic from 1817 which tell the tale of the Bell family. The Bell family includes father John (Sutherland), mother Lucy (Spacek) and daughter Betsy (Hurd-Wood) the family is well off in the society hosting big parties for people. John and Lucy start hearing strange noises around the house but never find out the source.

We learn that John has been conducting illegal business against Kathe Betts (Brown) who puts a curse on the family. A year has passed and nothing has happened but John is starting to see things, while Betsy starts to get haunted by an invisible threat. As the threat becomes more apparent Betsy starts to change leading to the family to try and find an answer which includes getting one of her teachers Richard Powell (D’Arcy) involved in trying to understand. We watch how the Bell family tries to deal with the problem of the evil spirit haunting them.

An American Haunting is a film that really was found footage type film only with reading the alleged accounts. Yeah that does sound rather boring I know. This film does try to follow the traditional haunting house idea where the youngster member of the house becomes the target of the spirit. I feel this was going reasonable well until they through us a curveball at the end and it went, from average too bad. Not many horror films manage to have an ending that makes things worse but this one achieved that. I feel this never challenges us horror fans and by slapping the based on true events tries to add a scare to us, when the truth is no one knows what is meant to have happened and all reports are second hand accounts. (4/10)


Actor Review


Donald Sutherland: John Bell is the wealthy man, who ends up pushing the wrong person in his small town which leads to his family getting cursed, leaving him helpless to save his daughter. Donald does a solid job but never reaches his well-known skills. (5/10)


Sissy Spacek: Lucy Bell is the mother of the family who just wants to protect her daughter from the spirit haunting the house. Sissy doesn’t get enough time to show what she can do with a very standard performance. (4/10)


James D’Arcy: Richard Powell is a man of science who tries to help the family solve the problem and is the one who has written the letters that explain what has been happening. James tries to improve the film but doesn’t really get going. (5/10)


Rachel Hurd-Wood: Betsy Bell is the daughter of the family that is being haunted by the spirit that is making her life difficult on every turn. Rachel does a solid job as the victim throughout the whole film. (6/10)


Support Cast: An American Haunting has a supporting cast that could be involved in the curse but also has members who are trying to help solve the curse. They all help in the traditional generic ways we would expect to see in this type of horror film.


Director Review: Courtney Solomon – Courtney does reach the scare levels the film could and with that wild twist ending I must say I was a little bit confused. (4/10)


Horror: An American Haunting does the very basic horror scares that you would expect to see in a possession based film. (5/10)

Mystery: An American Haunting tries to offer us up a mystery but never really makes us care too much about what is happening as it only hints in one direction before the final truth never gets suggested. (4/10)

Thriller: An American Haunting does try to keep you guessing as to what will happen next but fails to offer an original scare. (4/10)

Settings: An American Haunting uses authentic looking settings for the horror to take place given the setting it 1817 onwards. (7/10)

Suggestion: An American Haunting is one for the horror fans to try, if you are a fan of possession films this may impress you but as I am not I don’t rate this too highly. (Horror Fans Try)


Best Part: It builds up nicely.

Worst Part: The end was just mad.

Scariest Scene: Floating slaps.


Believability: It is meant to be based on actual events but I simply don’t believe them. (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No but it left open to one.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $29.6 Million

Budget: $14 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Tagline: Possession Knows No Bounds


Overall: An American Haunting doesn’t reach the level of horror it should do and ends up becoming a slow moving possession story.


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