The Bell Witch Haunting

2013

Action / Biography / Horror

104
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 11%
IMDb Rating 3.6 10 1458

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1hr 31 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by begob 5 / 10

Not so bad, but busy busy busy

A family hold a birthday party for their son at their new house, and he uses the present of a camera to document the ensuing strange events. are they tied to a local legend?

This has caught a lot of flack on IMDb, but I reckon it deserves a higher rating than 3.6. The pool party scene has annoyed some, but I thought it was fine, although the shaky cam was too much - if girls helicoptering their bikini tops is not for you, then stay away. If shaky cam grinds your gears, stick it out because it gradually settles down, and the last half hour (apart from the final scene) is on static surveillance cams.

The problem is they threw the kitchen sink at it, so it's full of action and sound effects and lots of characters, instead of the eerie build up of little things exploding in a terrifying climax that we're used to from the early Paranormal Activity movies. And packing in so much action means the implausibility of people not running for their lives comes way before the audience feels escape is futile. Also there's deep sloppiness in the story's internal time line.

There are a couple of scenes inserted to show off grandstanding effects (second forest death and exorcism), which carries on from the desire to capture the male teen audience in the pool party scene. Cut them out and you probably have an acceptable run time of 85 mins. Also, a useful scene is ruined by the hokey trick of tying strings to the four corners of a sheet to make it elevate.

Couple of good jump scares, but some of the stuff to camera is too literal for this genre - suggestion is much more effective while building to the climax. And the ghostly whispering took me back to '70s haunted house productions.

The acting is fine, apart from the sister. Too many characters early on, although they do get thinned out. And the discipline of the first person POV is lost in the final scene.

Overall - tries too hard, takes on too much, misunderstands its audience. It may be a case of the technical guys setting up the visuals before really thinking about their story. Seen a couple of those recently.

Reviewed by larry.launders 5 / 10

If you haven't seen it, then watch it.

I have not read any other reviews yet because I did not want to have them bias my own thoughts on this one.

First off, there are some things to this movie I really did enjoy. It does not use a ton of gore in order to get the label 'horror' for its category. That was nice to see. Sure, there's some, but it's not a gore fest.

Between its pacing and story it makes more of an effort to set mood, which in turn helps what events you do see have more punch. That's a very nice trait to see!

And this next part will come into play shortly, but I did really like the way they started the movie. I wouldn't call it inventive, but it sure worked!

But, having given those praises, I confess it did not hold my attention too well. The biggest detractor I can come up with is...for some of the situations we see, who in the world gets up in the middle of the night with a sibling screaming their head off in horror, and the first thing the other sibling apparently thinks to do is grab their video camera before they run down the hall to see what in the world is going on? Because the perspective you see most of this movie from is someone with a portable video camera and they're recording all this. (ala Blair Witch/found footage)

Early in the movie it works very well, because the setting makes it believable. I think the makers are banking on you getting involved enough in it to dismiss surrounding circumstances...OK I'm nit- picking, but again I guess I did not get that absorbed to where these circumstances presented themselves to me. And if you're paying attention to what you see and what you hear, there are some continuity problems. If you're not paying that close attention then it hardly matters. :-)

I was attracted to this mostly because the Bell Witch is a historic ghost story. And to some degree that info does come out in the story. The reactions to it are a bit tame, but at least they're not overdone!

Reviewed by dedevil g 1 / 10

so annoying i stopped watching within the first 20 minutes

I'm a big fan of found footage films. I don't mind bad effects or occasional shakiness, and can even let people get away with not-great acting if the story is good enough. But, by the Lord, this movie is atrocious and is deserving of every bad review on here.

What annoyed me the most was the portrayal of the teenage girls in this film, considering they showed up more than the actual protagonist or the plot did. It may not be obvious because it's not as in your face as any other overly eye-candy horror film you can think of, and a lot of it is actually pretty natural between girls who are comfortable with each other, but I know for a fact it's not this frequent. I've had friends that are confident in their sexuality, I've giggled over sex with my group, but this director must honestly believe that the female sex doesn't go a single moment in their life without discussing how they want to make out with each other (but are totally straight so don't worry boys, they're still available to you!) or how big their boobs are.

Within the opening scene, our protagonist (can't remember his name for the life of me) is having a birthday party, in which his cousin and group of friends rip off their bikini tops and most of everyone hoots and hollers. In any other setting, I'd get it. People party hard, but...at a family party? Flashing your cousin? Your own father discussing how hot you are? Gross. Then the scene proceeds to go into the kitchen, where some family member mentions in passing that their "house once burned down and people died, no big deal", and that's literally where ghost sh*t starts happening. Really? That's your setting, that's how and why you have this movie, and you deliver it like it's empty filler conversation made for ambiance.

The following scenes are just switches between the cousins bickering, the protagonist and his friend finding a dead animal in the forest (strange, as it has no connection to the ghost and I'm to believe that the scene was just added to put out-of-place gore), and the cousin crying as the protagonist films (in which her only concern is that he's in her room rather than he's filming her in obvious agony as if it's entertaining). Every once in a while, we'll get a cheap jumpscare from a ghost that holds no real meaning. Usually in found footage films, we'll see that throughout the film the ghost gets increasingly more violent, so the victims can only think it's something other than the wind when it's already too late. However, in this one it's already possessing people and locking them in basements while the family thinks nothing of it. There's even a time one of the cousin's friends catches the ghost full on camera, and goes to show her friends, just for the next scene to come by and the audience to never get closure on if they already found the ghost out or not. Everyone just pretends it didn't happen.

While I'm mentioning the girls, the moment I stopped watching was the scene AFTER the girls closing in on their breasts and squeezing them together happened--when they were all lying on the bed, discussing how they pretend to be lesbians to blow off boys and if they'd ever make out with each other (because, you know, lesbians are so hot hurr hurr), which swiveled off into another close up of a teenager groping her own tiddies and commenting how big she is, which swiveled off into another girl reading a magazine--but with a twist! all the questions are about their favorite sex position!

That was the moment I thought that I could be watching ghosts, but instead I'm watching these three girls giggle in typical valley girl tones about coincidental sexual magazine questions and jiggling their boobs for the viewer. I really wish I wasn't going on a rant about the fetishizing of women in something like a horror film, because really I don't mind a sex scene or innuendo here or there, but it's just so blatantly annoying. It doesn't make any sense, it's taking up more scenes than the actual plot is, and it's more fitting for a movie about some highschool boy that's goal in life is to get laid. I simply don't care for it, and it's getting shoved in my face every time these characters show up, which is even more agonizing when it's more frequent than anything in the film.

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