“There Is No Doubt That An American Haunting Ultimately Fails To Distinguish Itself From A Vast Number Of Similar Other Films.”
“With A Promising Premise And Fine Cast, An American Haunting Could Have Been A Memorable Horror Flick, But Instead, We Get A Haunting, Cinematic Mess.”
A standard, creaking, fake-spooky ghost story...
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
Things go bump in the night in this 19th-century ghost story, but it's the bump of emptying seats, as audiences flee in boredom, that will haunt you for days.
Nathan Lee - New York Times
Andrew Pulver - Guardian [UK]
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
There's a dark, abiding mystery at the center of An American Haunting, and it's how on earth major stars such as Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek were talked into appearing in this film.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
A wasted opportunity -- especially since the events as reported scarcely need embellishing.
Jim Ridley - Village Voice
For anyone aware of this poltergeist tale, or who bothers to look it up, the victim's identity will come as no surprise, and a horror movie without a surprise is no horror movie at all.
Jack Mathews - New York Daily News
Call it The Exorcist Meets Poltergeist, and head for the shelves at Blockbuster, where it will undoubtedly turn up soon.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
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.
John Anderson - Variety
The dark force behind this movie is the relentless power of cliche.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
It's not a true story. If lying is the latest trend in American pop culture (cf James Frey, Kaavya Viswanathan), then An American Haunting is on the cutting edge.
Grady Hendrix - Slate
Translating a legendary ghost story to the screen, writer-director Courtney Solomon crafts a quality horror piece from strong performances and effects.
Sheri Linden - Hollywood Reporter
The impassioned performances make you care what happens to these people, even when the film's noisy overindulgence makes you almost wish their home would collapse on itself like The Fall of the House of Usher.
David Germain - Associated Press
Tom Meek - Boston Phoenix
The frights are few and the moment of horrific revelation is a big letdown in writer/director Courtney Solomon's cinematic treatment of Brent Monahan's novel "The Bell Witch: An American Haunting."
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Dean Essner - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
it becomes haunted by the unwelcome presence of heavy-handedness, making it seem more like a busy domestic melodrama (with a ghost) than a truly unnerving chiller.
Anton Bitel - Eye for Film
Takes the most documented ghost story in history and doesn't create one truly scary moment.
Brian Tallerico - UGO
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
Dean Essner - Los Angeles Daily News
This is proof that it doesn't take lots of bloody gore, big special effects or jump-at-you moments to scare jaded audiences.
Michael Szymanski - Hollywood.com
Director Courtney Solomon's script is a catalogue of the standard Exorcist-style special effects, hammered home by Caine Davidson's musical score, one of the most irritating and nerve-wracking assemblies of noise in movie history.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
This allegedly true tale of demonic possession is weighed down by period detail and ponderous storytelling, which soon get the better of its Exorcist-inspired levitations, flying crucifixes and noisy poltergeist activity.
Nigel Floyd - Time Out
Unoriginal and unrelenting, this gothic ghost story invests too much time in banging doors and billowing drapes and not enough in its characters.
Matthew Leyland - BBC
It really is fun to watch yet another oddball turn by Sutherland, and a marginally restrained one from Spacek. It's just not that fun.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
Labeled by some as 'America's Greatest Ghost Story,' the legendary Bell Witch gets herself another movie and the result is far from America's Greatest Ghost Movie.
Eric Campos - Film Threat
It's less An American Haunting than American humdrum.
Pam Grady - Reel.com
A collection of cheap jump-scares and tacky cliched imagery that we've seen a million times before.
Joe Utichi - FilmFocus
Disappointing horror film which fails to generate any suspense or horror and is occasionally downright laughable.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
An American Haunting utterly stultifies the thrilling Bell Witch legend on which the film is based; the most disturbing ghost here is the wraith of opportunity lost.
Christine James - Boxoffice Magazine
Although [director Solomon] has some great ideas, they are limited, and we are therefore treated to repeats of the same basic scenario over and over again until the effect becomes tedious.
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Frank Wilkins - Frank's Reel Reviews
The film isn't that frightening simply because we've seen this sort of 'girl attacked by demon' material countless times before.
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Writer-director Courtney Solomon manages to cast a modern spin on the story, but it is one that could be regarded as the least imaginative explanation possible.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
Writer-director Solomon simply can't generate any actual suspense. Although he certainly tries.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
More like "An American Hanging." It slips a big noose of banality around its audience's necks and then tightens the rope until unconsciousness sets in.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
The girl has a crush on her teacher and a flirty classmate (Sam Alexander). But eventually this plotting seems a distraction, or a means to blame the victim.
Cynthia Fuchs - Common Sense Media
The star of Don't Look Now and the star of Carrie appearing in a film as weak as this - now that's scary.
Harry Guerin - RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)
On more than one occasion...a girl scrapes her fingernails across a wood floor as an invisible poltergeist attacks her. The wood floor may not be a chalkboard, but it's close enough.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
It's never an encouraging sign when a horror movie based on a true story fatally lacks the verisimilitude of, say, Alone In The Dark.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
Writer-director Courtney Solomon can't decide what kind of movie he's making.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Whatever really lurks behind the story of the kinda-famous Bell Witch remains hidden in "An American Haunting," a murky script that only makes us wonder all the more: What the heck?
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Just a lot of loud noises designed to make you jump.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
This is one of the more annoying, irritating, obnoxiously un-scary scary movies in recent memory.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Solomon's flimsy fright fable An American Haunting couldn't scare a lobbyist from a Washington D.C. politician's picnic...a sluggish period piece boofest.
Frank Ochieng - Movie Eye
like spending an afternoon in the world's lamest haunted house.
Pete Croatto - Filmcritic.com
If you're a believer in ghosts and spirits you might enjoy this film. It just made me want to find out what really happened in that house.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
The only real mystery about this nineteenth-century Exorcist is what could have possessed Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek to agree to star in it.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
a cross between "Masterpiece Theater" and "The Exorcist."
Eric Lurio - Entertainment Insiders
Boggles the mind with how many things it gets wrong.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Despite . . . general bumpings in the night, not to mention several rounds of people getting smacked around by unseen hands, [it's] just a whole lot of nothing going on
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Great scary atmosphere, but the film's loud sound effects, repetitive thrashing-about scenes, and overpowering music just about drove me nuts.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Throughout the film, doors slam, windows shatter and poor, battered Betsy wakes up screaming with tiresome regularity; even Sutherland appears bored by it all.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
A Post-Colonial Scooby-Doo, as respectable actors in perfectly pressed costumes run up and down stairs avoiding unseen spooks. The director stands in the corner yelling "Boo!"
Dan Fienberg - Zap2it.com
Dave White - Movies.com
This is the type of movie that you should be getting for free on television.
Peter Hartlaub - San Francisco Chronicle
Despite the shrieking soundtrack, spectral phenomena and obligatory visions of a creepy kid, Haunting scares up few chills.
Dean Essner - E! Online
There's thunder and lightning and wall-to-wall music. But it still doesn't add up to much of a movie.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Someone should call The Ghostbusters to make An American Haunting disappear from movie theaters like a ghost is expelled during an exorcism.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
The impact of the old-school effects is negated by Solomon's all too contemporary stylistic overkill: Sourceless but loud 'scary' noises accompany jump cuts and whip pans, and the camera usually appears more agitated than the Bells...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Spacek and Sutherland could do work like this in their sleep ... and now we have the proof.
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
Using alleged 'actual events' as a template, writer-director Courtney Solomon fashions a crafty mystery with a lot of joy-buzzer jolts sliding through its somber mood.
Gene Seymour - Newsday
This 'true account' of the Bell Witch haunting offers an encyclopedic rehash of spook films new and old, dressed out in murky period detail.
Paul Malcolm - L.A. Weekly
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Despite flaws and compromises, it's ballsier than The Sixth Sense, less laboured than The Others ...
Daniel Etherington - Film4
Regardless of what you may think of Donald Sutherland, and Sissy Spacek, An American Haunting is yet another light weight PG-13 film that poses rather well as an honest to goodness horror film.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Film Threat
An American Haunting takes the spurious "based on real events" claim to new extremes
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
History comes alive in a tale about the only American certified to have died because of a ghost.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
A solid supernatural suspenser.
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com
Low-budget films must be careful about period stuff.
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com