Movie Reviews 143 – An American Haunting (2005)

An American HauntingStarting off with a contemporary scene in which a young girl wakes up from a nightmare, we are immediately thrown into the year 1817 where a village elder (Donald Sutherland) is castigated by the church leaders for having taken advantage of a widower in a land deal. He seems to agree and wants to make amends, but the widower, a reputed witch curses both him and his eldest daughter. From that point on, both he and his daughter are beset by ghostly apparitions and other evil deeds and disturbances. His wife (Sissy Spacek), the local school teacher (James D’Arcy) and another friend try to makes sense of it all, first having to convince the skeptic teacher.

While well told and interesting enough, I found most of the movie kind of hum-drum with all the usual scares and ghostly fanfare we’ve seen in a million of other haunting movies. I’ve even lost count of how many movies I’ve watched with the word “Haunting” in the last five years alone. But the movie is turned on its head when we learn the true origin of the troubles at the root of all the evil at play. This was one of those movies where you think back at all the clues that were staring at you in the face (and are nicely summarized with a bunch of flashbacks in the movie itself when the, uh, ghost is out of the bag). Given all that, there is an added chill in the air when the movie reverts back to that girl in today’s time and we now know what she has to deal with.

This is not, just another ‘haunting’ movie. Well worth the watch and a bit of reflection after it’s taken in.

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