"An American Haunting" will be screened twice, 11/5 10P and 11/6 at 12:30P at AFIFEST at the ArcLight Theatres in Hollywood. Tickets avalaible at
'Haunting' skips gore, uses history, mystery By Gregg Kilday
Horror movies are bloodier than ever. Witness last weekend's successful release of the brutal "Saw II," which Lions Gate opened to a resounding $39 million.
"An American Haunting," which has its world premiere Saturday night at AFI Fest 2005, takes a different tack, though. It isn't without a spot or two of blood. But the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night tale of a ghost who terrorizes an early 19th century family in rural Tennessee forgoes the current vogue for more and more explicit shocks in favor of psychological surprises that have the potential of being more upsetting even if they are not quite as explicit.
"I actually started the project a long time before the whole resurgence of horror happened," writer-director Courtney Solomon says. Rather than straight horror, he saw the story as a supernatural, psychological thriller and sold it to his producing partner, Hong Kong-based financier Allan Zeman, as material more in the vein of "The Sixth Sense," a spooky tale with an ending that forces audiences to rethink all the events that preceded it. "Blood and gore will bring a certain return," Solomon says. "But audiences also appreciate it when you make them think."
"Haunting" is based on an incident that has become a popular bit of Tennessee folklore. According to the tale, a ghostly entity took over the home of the family of John Bell, a prosperous farmer in Adams, Tenn., around 1818. The entity became known as the Bell Witch and is said to have been witnessed by Andrew Jackson before he became president of the United States. In 1997, Brent Monahan wrote a book about the case, "Bell Witch: An American Haunting," which attracted Solomon's attention.