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An American Haunting (Unrated Edition)

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UPC: 012236201410

Format: DVDMultiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen

List price: $9.98
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With its brisk 83-minute running time, An American Haunting is compact enough to be recommended as an occasionally spooky sampling of historical horror. Based on Brent Monahan's novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting, which in turn was inspired by the only known case (from 1818-20) in which the U.S. government officially acknowledged a death by supernatural forces, writer-director Courtney Solomon's film is a well-crafted 19th-century case study involving Tennessee land-owner John Bell (Donald Sutherland), his worried wife Lucy (Sissy Spacek), and the terrifying abuse of their daughter Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) by a malicious poltergeist. Intensified by excessive sound effects and a nerve-jangling score, these nightly hauntings won't scare anyone who's seen The Exorcist, and they grow increasingly repetitious even as Spacek and Sutherland make the most of their underwritten roles. Solomon (who previously brought Dungeons and Dragons to the big screen) seems more interested in visceral terror than fleshing out the details of this interesting story of dark secrets and child abuse, and his over-used bag of tricks includes time-lapse footage, flashes of negative images, black-and-white (to signal an imminent haunting), and a variety of physical effects designed to keep your adrenaline flowing. It works, to a point (although the present-day framing scenes are completely unnecessary), and An American Haunting makes a good double-feature with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a far better film with similar subject matter. This good-looking, bleakly moody fright-fest is also noteworthy as the next-to-last screen credit for Adrian Biddle, the esteemed cinematographer of such high-profile hits as Aliens, Thelma & Louise, The Mummy, and V for Vendetta, the latter completed just prior to Biddle's fatal heart attack in December 2005.--Jeff Shannon
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Video details

List Price: $9.98
Rating: Unrated
Studio: Lionsgate
Actors: Donald Sutherland Sissy Spacek Rachel Hurd-Wood James D'Arcy Matthew Marsh 
Size: 7.1000" x 5.4200"
Weight: 0.3800 lbs.
Language: English, Spanish, English, English