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An American Haunting (2005)
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Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Script by: Courtney Solomon
Status: Premiere Nov. 5, 2005 - AFI Festival (USA)
Genre: Horror Ghost Story
Runtime: 83/90 (unrated) min
Production Studio: American Haunting Productions Ltd, Midsummer Films, Remstar Productions
Country: USA, UK, Canada, Romania
Co-Stars: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Thom Fell
Role: Richard Powell
Betsy’s schoolmaster who has an interest in her. He notices Betsy looking sick in class and is called to help, but neither his scientific knowledge nor his infatuation with young Betsy can prevent the apparition from returning and causing even more damage.
James about his character: I play a character called Richard Powell, a schoolteacher in this small village in 1816, Tennessee. He is more educated than perhaps the majority of this farming community; he seems to fit rather well and is someone who people look up to. What I really like about Richard Powell is that he is kind of double edged. He has something that is interesting for an actor to play truthfully but at the same time to give the impression of something else. It is a challenge, a very exciting role to do.
Plot: Based on the novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan. A movie about the allegedly only documented case of a person being murdered by a ghost. In the year 1817 the Bells have an uninvited guest in their home in Tennessee. A poltergeist starts haunting their house, destroys the interior, disturbs the family members and puts an acid test on the parents and their daughter Betsy. Father John soon suspects the "visitor" could be the vengeful ghost of an alleged witch. But all the effort to get rid of the intruder goes to waste...
Trivia & Facts:
- Budget: $12 mil
- The interiors were shot on the set of Media Pro Studios in Bucharest, Romania where the village life of 1820 Tennessee was recreated.
- While the historical events are based in fact, the letter mentioned in the present-day plot line is purely fictional. There is no evidence that John Bell ever molested a member of his family or that Mrs. Bell killed her husband.
- The Bell Witch is credited as being the only case in US History were a spirit caused the death of a man.
- Betsy married her schoolteacher, Prof. Richard Powell in real life and in the movie. The marriage took place in March of 1824, when Betsy was 18 years old and Powell was 29. They had 8 children. In some theories, Powell is named as the “brains” behind the entity.
- There were 2 versions: Unrated (1 hour 30 min) and Theatrical Cut (1 hour 23 min)
- Originally, James D’Arcy did the voiceovers (UK version), but when he finished, Solomon walked away from it and relooked at it again objectively. After the AFI, Solomon recut it and changed the voiceover to Sissy Spacek for the US version.
Film Location: Bucharest (Romania), Montreal (Canada)
Andrew Jackson (US President): I would rather take on the entire English Fleet than stay one night at the Bell House.
James D'Arcy: I'll tell you what — if you go to Tennessee and you say you don't believe in the Bell Witch, you would be [hanged]...I feel like the Bell Witch would have popped up before now. We made the film a year or so ago. The Bell Witch hasn't arrived in my house just yet, and I live in England, so maybe the Bell Witch isn't going to come all that way just to get me.
The biggest change between reading the script and now shooting it is, I realized, he [Richard] looks a lot more like me than I thought.
Donald Sutherland: [James] was fun, he was lovely to work with. I developed a great friendship with James and Matthew and Tom Fell, who plays my eldest son. Uh, they’re English actors and they worked very hard on their accents and they did wonderfully well, I think. And James was someone that Courtney and I, together with Sissy, asked for. And he was—he’s the—the lynchpin of the movie. The narrator. And it’s, uh, he has—he just brings that kind of intelligence and sobriety and wit to the screen
I was very impressed with James D’Arcy’s performance as Richard Powell. Although he wasn’t scripted to be dignified and pompous like the real Richard Powell, he looked the part and his disposition was right --- Pat Fithugh (Author/Historian-Bell Witch website)