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An American Haunting Review

Movies.com Critics

1.0

Dave White Profile

… nothing happened. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0
    38

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The unnecessarily famous cast for such a standard, creaking, fake-spooky ghost story (with Bible verses thrown in for good measure).

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    Variety

    A well-made, good-looking movie it is, but between the non-stop tumult and the sense of deliberateness about its period authenticity, An American Haunting produces a lot of screaming, crying and cruelty, but not much drama.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Sheri Linden

    Solomon crafts a quality horror piece from strong performances and effects. The chief disappointment of An American Haunting is that it doesn't exploit more opportunities for the sublime subtlety of performances by Sissy Spacek and, especially, Donald Sutherland.

    Read Full Review

  • See all An American Haunting reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Incoherent and very grim curse/sex abuse story.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie, which claims to be inspired by a true case, involves two levels of evil curse: The first is apparently cast by an irate neighbor (here called a witch); the second is more dreadful, covered up by the first: The father sexually abuses his daughter, and she retaliates. There's loud, frightening music, several jump scenes, and spooky handheld camerawork through dark stairwells, hallways, and woods. The evil force abuses the little girl mercilessly: it drags her, rips her blanket off, slaps her, throws her against walls, appears to molest her, makes her scream repeatedly. (It also scares her little girlfriend, who sleeps over one night.) Force also attacks the father, in the form of a wolf, visible to him, invisible to everyone else. Early party scene features drunken characters. A mother poisons a father, and a 21st-century mom realizes too late that her daughter is also being abused.

  • Families can talk about the film's elusive scares. Aside from the conventional cues (loud music, dark spaces, handheld camera, jump scenes), the movie uses implied threats and unseen forces: What are the effects of these strategies? You might also want to talk about ghosts and witches' curses, and the idea that the "true story" assumes their existence and effects.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: In 1817, father overcharges a woman for a loan; families own slaves; it appears at film's end that the 19th-century father and now a 21st-century father sexually abuse their daughters.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Scary movie violence and jump scenes; magical ferocious wolves attack John; an invisible force pulls off Betsy's blanket, drags her, holds her above floor and slaps her, spins her, causes bleeding around her crotch; speeding carriage hits a tree and flips over suddenly; men use guns to shoot at deer and a wolf; man invites "witch" to shoot him (she holds pistol to his head but won't shot); man then tries to shoot himself but the gun won't fire; mother poisons her husband.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Mother and father discuss daughter's just-emerging sexuality; a boy kisses a girl at school; incest.

  • language false0

    Language: 19th-century style anguish: one use of the word "hell."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: John smokes a pipe; characters drink at a party and become visibly drunk; men drink while playing checkers.

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