An American Haunting is a horror-mystery thriller released in 2005, directed and written by Courtney Solomon and starring Sissy Spacek, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Donald Sutherland. The supernatural horror fiction movie is based on American folklore of the Bell Witch. With high moral lessons, the movie could be a good match for film geeks who love to watch horror fiction.
An American Haunting Explained and Plot Story in Details
* * * Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, turn back now! * * *
The film is based on Brent Monahan’s novel “The Bell Witch: An American Haunting”. The story of the Bell Witch haunting of Tennessee in the 19th century inspired Monahan to write the book. As part of local folklore, the book gets popularity among horror fiction readers. The producer and writer of the film, Courtney Solomon, have picked his story-telling base from Brent Monahan’s novel, adding extra color through the modern-day concatenates.
How did the Story of An American Haunting Start?
The film revolves around the Bell family, who lived in red river, Tennessee, back in the year 1817. The Bell family consists of John Bell (Donald Sutherland), his wife Lucy (Sissy Spacek), and their children, Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood), Richard, Joel, John Bell Jr. (Thom Fell), and Elizabeth. John Bell, the family’s patriarch, is a wealthy farmer. The family began to experience strange things on their farm, like unidentified noises, independently moving objects and sometimes physical attacks on family members.
The Bell family starts to experience the odd thing in their house also. At first, the peculiar activities initially appear as harmless pranks but soon escalate to more dangerous and terrifying events. Betsy Bell gets targeted by supernatural forces and becomes afraid.
As the reels roll on, John Bell Jr., the family’s son, witnesses the paranormal activity and tries to find a way to stop it. He consults a local preacher and school teacher named James Johnston, who attempts to exorcise the Bell home from the malevolent spirit. The haunting continues despite the preacher’s efforts, and the family members become increasingly desperate to find a solution.
Together they conclude that the haunting is caused by a vengeful spirit known as the Bell Witch. The witch has a personal vendetta against John Bell. The Bell Witch begins to torment the Bell family, making the family member’s lives a living hell. John Bell and his family try to leave the house, but the witch continuously follows them wherever they go.
What Happened to the Bell Family?
As the story goes on, the family find that the curse may have been caused by a woman named Kathe Batts (Gaye Brown), who has a personal grudge against the family’s father, John. They thought that Kathe exorcises a powerful evil force who seeks revenge on the Bell family for the wrongs committed against her. Betsy and her mother, Lucy, confront Kathe and convince her to lift the curse.
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Later the family realized that the curse didn’t come from Kathe. The demonic power was brought by the sins committed by the family’s father. Betsy, the daughter, lost her innocence after being sexually assaulted by her father, John Bell. The daughter confronts Kathe and reveals the truth about her father’s wrong approach to her. Learning about this matter, her mother, Lucy, poisoned John Bell to end the curse. But it didn’t finish the curse; it ended with Betsy’s honest confrontation with Kathe about her father’s sin.
In the story’s modern-day plot, a teenage girl named Courtney Collins (Sissy Spacek) is sent to live with her father, Howard Rosenstein (HoJo Rose) and stepmother (Susan Almgren) in their home in Tennessee in Summer. Courtney was a victim of her abusive father. Soon after arriving, Courtney begins to experience strange occurrences, such as hearing voices, mysterious sounds on the wall and seeing apparitions.
She initially dismisses these experiences as a hallucination due to being in a new place. The haunting intensifies, and she becomes increasingly convinced that something is wrong. Courtney and her family begin to research the haunting.
As Courtney and her family begin to research the haunting history, they discover that their house is built on land the Bell family once owned. They also get to know about the legend of the Bell Witch. Courtney starts to suspect that the curse placed on the Bell family may have followed the land, now affecting them as the landlord. As the haunting becomes more frequent and violent, the family members become increasingly desperate to find a way to break the curse.
Together with her father, Courtney sets out to break the curse. They visit the Bell Witch cave, where the legend is said to have occurred. There they encounter a mysterious figure who reveals that her father is a descendant of John Bell and has been cursed by the Bell Witch.
He explains that the curse can only be broken by confronting the truth about what happened to the Bell family. Courtney realizes that the Bell Witch is not haunting her family because of anything they have done but because of a curse placed on the house.
Who was that Mysterious Entity in the Cave of Bell Witch?
Later, it is revealed that the mysterious entity is actually the version of Courtney’s younger brother. He has travelled back in time to stop the curse. He admits that he has been haunted by the Bell Witch his whole life. For this reason, he has been trying to prevent the events of the past from affecting his own family. With his help, Courtney and her father can break the curse and end the haunting once and for all.
What Happened at the End of the Movie, An American Haunting?
As you already know, the 19th century isn’t the film’s end. After studying Betsy’s symptoms in Richard Powell’s (James D’Arcy) journal, which describes the daughter’s being picked up by her father, it’s at this point the mother sees the Bell Witch; Courtney’s mother joined the dots and understands her daughter has faced sexual abuse from her father, too. With Courtney, she confronts the truth about the Bell family with the demonic power to break the curse. They go back to their house safely after breaking the course.
What are the Morals of the Film, An American Haunting?
The last twist of An American Haunting movie shows how the vicious cycle repeats through the generations, with the positive power to confront mistakes with others. Metaphorically, the Bell Witch is the evil deeds that haunt our dearest ones and us. As the curse of the Bell Witch is carried from generation to generation, our sins are also carried by our relatives, friends, and companions. Sometimes, they have to suffer for our evil deeds.
An American Haunting is a great movie with a touch of local folklore. This 93-minute horror-mystery thriller is worth watching every second. The brainless pen always suggests watching the movie. The dusk is already here, and the brainless pen needs some rest. Curtains are on for today, have a great day.
Original Title: An American Haunting
Genre: Horror/ Mystery
Runtime: 1hr 23min
Original Language: English
Written & Directed by Courtney Solomon
Release date: May 5, 2006 (USA)