An American Haunting

Synopsis: In 2006, in Red River, Tennessee, a teenager has frequent nightmares. Her mother reads an old letter from 1817 written by her ancestor, Lucy Bell. After a dispute of lands judged by the church, her husband John Bell is cursed by his opponent Kathe Batts, who has a fame of being a witch. From this moment on, an entity threatens John and her daughter Betsy Bell, attacking the girl during the nights. With the support of Betsy's school teacher Richard Powell, who tries to find rational explanations for the manifestation; her brother John Bell Jr.; and their friend James Johnston, who unsuccessfully tries to exorcize the entity from the house, the family does their best to protect Betsy in the haunted house.
Genre: Drama, History, Horror
Director(s): Courtney Solomon
Production: Freestyle Releasing
  5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
83 min



(clock ticking)


- Jane! Jane! It's Momma.


Look at me!

J-Jane. Jane.

- No! No!


- Oh, thank God.

D'you have another nightmare,


Let's get you

into a nice hot bath, huh?

- Can I do it later? Please?

- All right.

But you have to get ready

for your father.

It's his weekend with you.

- I know. I know.

- What's this?

- I found it in the attic.

- Honey, you know

the attic's off-limits.

- Sorry.

- Just don't do it again, okay?

I know how you feel.

- November 1848.

I hoped that no one

would ever find cause

to open this letter.

If you have,

I must assume

that unexplained...

or even supernatural events

have begun to occur.

The story of the Bell witch

had always been considered

to be a tall tale.


This is not so.

Please, read this journal

with great care...

... for its contents

may save your life.

- Now where are you gonna go?

Just one kiss.

- No, Joshua.

- Leave that young lady alone.


Did he try to kiss you again?

- Isn't there something

you should be doing, Miss Bell?

- Oh, I'm sorry, Mother.

I was thinking about something else...

- Probably about torturing poor Joshua.

You really should be nicer to him,


- A woman must keep a man

on his toes at all times.

Isn't that what you taught me?

- I taught you no such thing,

Betsy Bell.

- I'm gonna make Joshua

love me forever.

- Well, then you better

stop mistreating him.

- You think I was too hard on him?

- Just a little bit.

- What would I do without you?

- Oh, you'd just shrivel up

and blow away.

Now, don't forget your schoolwork.

- I won't!

(children laughing)

- Good evening, sir.

- My hat, thank you.


(jig music playing)

- ... then James Johnson grabbed it,

swallowed a swig of it,

wiped his mouth,

then he took hold of the wheel

at the axle

and in an instant, that carriage

was up and and out of that snowbank

as if 10 men had had a hold of it.

Ten! Ten!

- Speak of the devil!

I thought you'd gotten lost!

- I'm not stewed

that I can't find

the fob next door.

- I was telling them about you

and that carriage last winter.

- Ha-ha! I did...

- Not yet!

- ... that carriage!

- With the help

of a good swig of horse liniment.

- Who has the drink?

- You're three sheets to the wind


(children giggling)

- I'm so sorry, Professor Powell.

- It's all right.

They're just having fun.


- Theny!

- Is there not a... tradition

connected to mistletoe,

Professor Powell?

- Well...

(John laughing)

- Yes, but...

- Elizabeth Bell,

it's not appropriate

for a student to place a teacher

in such a compromising situation.

You know better than that, precious.

- Well...

it is Christmas, Father.

And I am simply attempting

to learn the traditions.

Who better to learn from

than one's teacher?

- My prize pupil always seems

to have a ready answer

for everything, John.

Would you settle

for a dance, Betsy?

- Oh, John,

let them have their dance.

- May I steal this Bell

for a dance?

(Mrs. Bell laughing)

I promise not to step on your toes.


- John!

(rapid thumping)

(moaning sound)

(quick sobbing sound)

(child crying)

(rapid thumping)



I heard noises on the roof.

- It's coming from the attic.


- Squirrels?

- No, it's too loud for squirrels.

(running footsteps )

It's the third time I've heard it

in as many nights.

- I hadn't heard it.

- You sleep so sound,

you don't even feel me

get out of bed.

- Yes, I do.

(wind blowing softly)


It stopped.

- Yeah.

- What was it?

- Probably that witch trying

to wear me out before tomorrow's trial.

- Oh, bite your tongue, John Bell!


(soft breathing)

- Man's a lyin'pig!

- Miss Batts!

- Stole my land!


- Miss Batts,

we have heard

your side of the story.

Please allow John Bell

to finish his.

- So, we offered her the use

of our slave, Samuel,

and the loan of $100

in exchange for our use

of that small piece of her land

that abuts our own.

(gavel pounding)

- We shook on it!

- Oh!

- Spit and shook,

I gave you two harvests to pay

and you didn't pay for it,

so you forfeited the land.

(gavel pounding)

It was a fair price for it.

- Twenty-percent interest?

- Well...

it seemed like a reasonable charge

under the circumstances,

given her reputation.

- John Bell,

you broke church law.

Twenty-percent interest...

... under church canon...

... is usury.

Miss Batts's land

will be returned to her.

- What about my timber?

He took it off my land and sold it!

- You would not have allowed

the cutting of the wood

had you not received that money

and the use of the slave.

- But he broke church law.

- You have the $100

and Samuel.

The profit on the land

is John Bell's.

His loss,

the loss of his good name...

... is punishment enough.

- That's not fair!

That's their punishment for you,

John Bell.

Just wait until you see mine.

- Witchery can't touch me, woman.

- Treasure your land,

health and happy family

while you can.

For I swear,

dreadful darkness

will fall upon you.


... and your precious daughter too.

- Kate Batts...

... well, she was feared

by everyone in the village.

They were all convinced

she was a witch.

So the Bells took her cursing them

very seriously.

At the time,

I didn't believe in curses,

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Brent Monahan

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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