An American Haunting (2005) Movie Script

(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,
ghosts or spirits.
I do now.
- John.
- Father, you all right?
- Yeah.
- We got it, Father.
- The wolf?
- Wolf?
We shot a deer.
Come see it, Father.
(low growling)
- I heard it.
- Back there.
(low growling)
- Keep your eyes peeled,
it's black as night.
(young boy):
Momma! Momma! Momma!
- Oh, let me hold you.
- Betsy, what was that crash?
- Mother, there's something in my room!
There's something in my room!
- Oh, the wind blew the window open.
I'll close it.
- No! There's something in here.
It got inside.
- Well, there doesn't seem
to be anything in here now, Betsy.
It was probably just mice, darling.
- I don't think so, Mother.
- Let's go find your brothers.
Come along.
Let's go find that big, scary mouse!
(boys ): Yeah!
(footsteps )
(door creaking)
- Everyone all right?
- We're fine.
Let's get back to bed.
You could have killed us.
- Yeah, it was young John.
- He shot a musket into the house.
- It discharged accidentally.
- He shot a musket
into the house, John!
- We were taken aback.
I can't get Kate Batts
out of my head.
- What's done is done!
The church has had its say
and that's that,
so just put it out of your mind!
(whispering sound, building)
(eerie music)
(eerie, discordant sounds )
- Now, class,
who were the couriers
ordered to ride to Concord
to warn that the British were coming?
Yes, Theny.
- Paul Revere,
Samuel Prescott and William Dawes.
- Right, Theny.
And did they succeed, Betsy?
All right, class,
let's leave this for a moment.
It's time for your physical exercise
anyway. Fifteen minutes now!
Fifteen minutes only.
You all right, Betsy?
- I'm tired.
Our house makes...
strange noises at night.
It's hard to sleep.
(child): Pass it to me, quick!
- Betsy!
- Betsy? You hurt?
- W-where'd she go?
- Who?
- The girl who was swinging with me.
- You were swinging alone, Betsy.
- Did you see a girl?
- No.
(blowing sound)
(heavy-breathing sound)
- Betsy! I'm here, darling.
- Momma! Momma!!!
Momma!!!!!!!! Momma!!!!!!!!!!
- It's me! Betsy!
- Momma!!!!!!!!!!!
- Betsy, Momma's here!
- Momma!!!!!
(John): Betsy!!
Betsy! Betsy.
- It touched me.
- Where?!
Who touched you?
- I don't know.
I couldn't see.
(John exclaiming)
- It was just a bad dream, darling.
- But it was so real.
- It's all right, John.
She's had a bad dream.
- Let's just get you back to sleep.
It was just a dream.
- It wasn't a dream.
There was someone on the roof.
- What?
- I think maybe Kate Batts
sent one of her slaves to torment us.
When I find him--
- John!
- --I'll whip him
to within an inch of his life!
- My God.
- What?
- John, look at this.
- That sonofabitch!
- John!
John... Wait.
Stop. We don't know
who did this!
- I know who did this!
- You don't!
Listen to me!
- Batts is not gonna hurt my daughter.
- Oh, go on, then! Be a fool!
- What are the two foundations
of any civilized community?
- Church and--
- Church and education, that's what.
And this man pioneered them both
for our community,
with his money and with his hands.
- He built the church
and the church condemns him.
- Usury. I broke church law.
- But, Father--
- Moral turpitude.
- Moral turpitude, pah!
He charged a rate of interest
that was just a little higher
than church canon.
But what the elder didn't realize
was who he was dealing with!
- Shhh, James.
The boys are finally asleep.
- Th-that's good. Bless their...
Now, a few chapters...
from the Bible
will take care
of this house's troubles.
- Quietly, James.
- "Hannah prayed and said,
" 'My heart exalts in the Lord...
"My mouth is enlarged
over mine enemies...'
" 'Who am I?
An untamed spirit that spoke to him
"and Jesus answered,
" 'Be silent
"and come out of there.'
"The spirit gave a loud cry
and departed."
all join hands.
As one,
we shall speak this prayer
three times.
Demon, in the name of Jesus Christ,
be silent
and leave this house forever.
(all): Demon,
in the name of Jesus Christ,
be silent
and leave this house forever.
Demon, in the name
of Jesus Christ,
be silent
and leave this house forever.
Demon, in the name of Jesus Christ,
be silent
and leave this house forever.
Almost 12:00
and all is well.
I believe your home is safe.
- I'm sure Kate Batts
is at the root
of these disturbances.
- Yeah.
- A few nights ago,
I saw something.
A man, I think.
Moving about the property.
- Who was he?
- Couldn't make out for sure.
- Was probably the professor.
He's the only one who lives nearby.
- You don't think Richard
has his eye on Betsy, do you?
- He's her teacher,
for goodness sake.
(clock chiming)
Hallelujah, Lucy.
God has answered.
It's midnight
and your house is quiet.
- Thank you, James.
- I beat him, Lucy.
- Oh, did you?
Oh, good night, all.
- Good night, dear.
- Good night.
Now, I wasn't looking, John.
I was talking to your wife.
That game don't count.
- Don't you blame that on me!
(James laughing)
- I'll set for another one.
- Ain't gonna play
if you're gonna cheat.
- I never cheat.
My move.
- Ahhhh! Dad! Daddy!!
- Open the door!
(John shouting)
(Betsy screaming)
(Lucy): Betsy!!!
(John): Open the door!!
(slapping sound)
- Help me!!!!!!
Help me!!!!! Help!!!!!!!
- In the name of Jesus Christ,
cease this at once!
- It's all right.
- Demon, ghost,
entity - call it what you will,
it is not natural.
- James, James,
listen to yourself.
You're not being realistic.
(James sputtering)
There must be a rational explanation.
- Listen, Richard,
I have documented evidence.
It's the testimony
of Joan Jordan
at the witch trial
of Olive Barthram,
Suffolk Assizes,
of 1599.
scraping on the walls.
Then, knocking.
After that, shuffling.
And then, it clapped the maid
on the cheek...
half-a-score times.
- Do you not think
it is far more likely
that Kate Batts,
unhappy with the ruling,
has sent her slaves to exact
a pound of flesh from you?
- Well, that's what I thought,
but this was not the work of slaves.
- Lord, no!
She was dangling there!
Two feet off the ground!
- All right.
The incidents
always happen at night
and always in Betsy's room.
- That's right, Professor.
- So it was dark.
Well, it would've been quite easy
for you not to have seen
someone holding her.
- She was suspended in midair
by something not of this Earth!
- John!
Now, the only logical explanation
is that someone was holding her.
- There was nobody in that room.
- And what about the door?
The strength of three of us
couldn't budge it.
- Well...
the rain that night
could've cause the door to swell.
- It could've.
- And the slaps?
How did we imagine them?
- Now, that's a boy's trick.
Dried peas
blown through a hollow reed.
- A pea shooter?
- Huh!
- No pea shooter
could smack her face
that violently.
- Did you actually see
someone slapping her?
- No, I saw her being slapped.
- But you did not see
someone slapping her?
- No, that's the point.
- So it stands to reason
you may also not have seen
someone holding her.
Now, whatever happened,
it's very clear
that confusion was about that room.
- Professor, we did not all imagine
the same thing.
- There was something unholy
in that room.
- John...
... when the school week is over,
I will come and spend the night
at your house
and I will prove to you
that this is nothing more
than someone
trying to frighten you.
(bell tinkling)
All right, time's up, class.
Leave your slates
on my desk, please.
- Betsy.
Hurry up.
We gotta get to the river
before it gets dark.
- Not today, Joshua.
- We've been planning this for weeks.
- I just don't feel like it.
- Come on, Betsy.
- I said no!
Leave me alone!
- What did you say to her?
- Nothing.
- This will pass, Betsy.
- Why?
(child): Give that back!
- Remember what?
(ominous music)
(door creaking)
- No!
- No, no!
- No! Don't!
(John): Lucy, what's happening?!
(Lucy): What's happening?
- Richard, you should not be watching.
- Somebody wake her!
- Oh!
- John!
(door creaking)
(water pouring)
- Open your eyes, John.
- He'll be all right in the head
come morning, Miss Bell.
- And the poultice?
- He keep them roots
on his head a while.
- Well...
Betsy appears to suffer
from violent nightmares.
- Did you see my sister?
- Of course.
- You think what my daughter
just went through--
- Bear with me
for a minute here--
- The covers were pulled off her bed!
That was no nightmare.
- Nightmares may appear
to be more than they are.
People often imagine
they've seen--
- We didn't imagine any of this!
You were there, you saw it!
It was not natural!
- There's something evil here.
- This is blasphemy!
- Who's there?
Show yourself!
- Betsy, is that you?
- Destroy them, O Lord!
Let them fall by their own counsel!
- Quiet, James!
- Destroy them! Destroy them!
Cast them out!
- Can you see anyone?
- A multitude of their...
- Who is that?
- O Lord,
they have rebelled against thee!
Cast them out!
- Stop that, James!
- The foolish shall not stand!
They shall not stand
in thy sight!
Cast them out! Cast them--
Stop it!!
Damn you to hell!!
- Are you familiar
with that which Mr. Johnson reads?
- Of course it understands
the words of the Lord.
That's why it's gone.
- Was the reading
from the Gospel According to Matthew?
- Was that a yes...
or a no?
- Shhh!
The Gospel According to Mark?
- Is it a Psalm of David?
(loud noise)
Why are you here?
Have the Bells disturbed you?
- Are we all having nightmares now,
- My mess. I'll clean it.
- Anky, could you answer
the door, please?
- Yes, ma'am.
- Hi, Anky.
- Zach.
What you doing here?
- Miss Batts told me
to bring this bag to the Bells.
She say she found it on her land.
Bye, Anky.
- Bye, Zach.
- Who was it, Anky?
- It was Zach, ma'am.
- Who works for Kate Batts?
- Yes'm.
She give him this bag
to give to you.
- I don't want anything of hers
brought into this house.
- She say it belong
to the Bell family.
- No, Mom.
- This is Betsy's.
- Yes, Miss Lucy.
And that be Mr. Bell's shirt.
They's been missing for over a year.
- Why would she have their clothes?
What is it, Chloe?
What do you know?
Tell me what you know.
- You heard about Miss Kate
being a witch and all.
Well, Miss Lucy,
when witches
get a critter's blood on folks' clothes,
why, that mean
the person gonna...
- Gonna what, Chloe?
Gonna what?
- Gonna...
Gonna die, Miss Lucy!
Gonna die!
- I'll burn it!!
- No, Miss Lucy!!
That'll make it worse.
They're gonna let the devil in!
(eerie music)
(children shouting)
- Hey, come on, come on!
Hey, give it back!
("angelic" music)
- Stop! Wait!
Please, stop!
(water dripping)
- You're having a nightmare!
(breathing heavily)
It's all right.
It's all right.
It's all right.
What happened?
- I don't remember.
I never remember.
- Should I wake your parents?
- No!
Please just stay here with me.
- Of course, Betsy.
Let's get you covered up.
- John!
- I'll kill her. I'll kill her!
- No, John.
When they hang you for her murder,
what happens to us?
- You won't be any worse off
than you are already--
- John, I want to have you,
John Bell!
- But sacrificing my life
could end this torment!
- We'll find another way, John.
We'll find another way.
- Theny?
- Yes, Betsy?
- Do you believe in the Lord?
- Of course I do.
Don't you?
- I used to.
- Oh, Betsy.
- I'm so afraid.
- Don't be.
I'm here with ya.
Good night, Betsy.
- Good night.
(whisper): Betsy...
- Did you hear that?
(whisper): Betsy...
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...!
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...!
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...!
- Let me out!
Let me out!!!!
Let me out!
- Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...!
- Let me out!!!
- Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy...!
(Theny screaming)
(Theny whimpering)
- How long has she been this way?
- Uh, maybe 30 minutes,
- No, more than that.
- Theny?
(Theny whimpering)
Can you tell us what happened?
- It's all right, Theny.
- She was having a nightmare.
She was...
fighting with someone.
She started...
hitting herself.
I woke her up and then...
... then this...
- Betsy! Betsy, you're all right.
Betsy! Betsy! Come on!
Come here, come here!
Shhh! Shhh!
Shhh! Here, look at me.
Look at me, look at me!
Shhh, shhh.
- Betsy...
- Did you hear it?
- Shhh...
(whisper): Bad
(knocking sound)
(whisper): John Jr...
John Bell...
Tell me the truth...
(plaintive cry)
- What is it, Lord?
- Cease this at once!!!
(plaintive crying)
(different disembodied voices ):
- You're gonna die...
- Make him pay.
- No, no, no...
(disembodied laughter)
- Who are you?
(whisper): She'll sadden one
who was once happy...
- Go to hell, Kate Batts!
(babbling of disembodied voices )
- Precious! Oh!
- Oh!
(Betsy screaming)
- No! Betsy, no!
Betsy! No! No!
- No!
- Stop!!! No!!
(Professor): It spoke.
It had a voice.
But what did it want?
Why was it making Betsy suffer so?
What did she do
to make it so angry?
The black wolf?.
The young girl,
visible only to Betsy;
the spirit
which none of us could see.
How did they relate to each other?.
Were they one and the same?
The attacks on Betsy got worse.
It spoke more and more.
I tried to get it to tell us
why it had come.
My questions
were answered with silence.
Why wouldn't it answer?.
- In my life...
I've done far more good than not.
Even saints...
commit sins of some sort.
How can you allow...
my family...
to be punished like this?!
It's the way of Satan!
I've offered you my life...
in recompense.
Why do you not take it?
I beg you.
I beg you, Lord.
Rid us of this curse.
Take my life.
The Lord has forsaken me, Richard.
- That which attacks Betsy...
attacks you as well.
"Someone who was once happy."
To whom do you think that refers?
- Kate Batts.
Everything points to her.
- Well, look, if she is the cause,
than why not just return the profit
and the timber to her?
- I tried.
Two months ago.
I sent Chloe to see her.
Money in hand.
She sent it back.
- Then she does mean
to torment you.
- Until I die.
- This...
... do you believe
it can read your mind?
- No, I do not.
But I do believe it can...
hear our conversations.
That's how it knows
our every move.
- But it is only present
on this property.
(horses whinnying)
- Yah! Yah!
(horses whinnying)
- You know,
the fog is awfully thick.
- We made good time.
We should be out of the woods soon.
(whispery breathing sound)
- Betsy!!
Betsy! Can you hear me?
(horse neighing)
- Whoa! Whoa!
- Come on!
(Betsy): It's getting closer!
(Betsy panting)
It's gone.
- Gone where?
(horse whinnying)
- Mother?
- I'm right here, darling.
- I had the most terrible nightmare.
- Shhh.
- You were sending me away.
- Oh, I would never send you away.
- Mother?
- Yes, darling?
- Am I gonna die?
- No.
You're not gonna die.
Now, you just rest.
Just rest.
- If this entity...
... can hear us at all times...
... and is in all places...
- Then...
there's no escaping it.
- You care for her,
don't you, Richard?
More than the normal concern
of a teacher for a student.
- Why would you say that?
- I've seen you look at her.
- It is true,
there is no one for a day's ride
as comely as your daughter, Lucy.
I would not presume to--
- Maybe you should.
- I'm almost 20 years her senior.
- The same is true of John and me.
- Can she love me?
- She will.
I'm so afraid for her.
Richard, please, marry her.
- Your faith in me
is flattering, Lucy.
- Please.
- But I could not,
with good conscience,
marry Betsy
merely to be her protector.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
After that night,
something changed.
The attacks on Betsy
became less violent.
The entity now took out its rage
on John,
while leaving Betsy
in an almost lifeless state.
(whisper): John...
I'll kill you
John... Help her...
Help her, John...
She's so young... John...
(child): No!
- Help her... She's so young...
- Help her...
- Precious.
- Help her...
- Oh!
- You're gonna die...
(whispering voices )
You're gonna die, John...
(whispery laughter)
(different disembodied voices ):
- Precious...
- Your precious...
- Precious...
- Once sad ...
(Professor): The entity
wouldn't let anyone try to help Betsy
when she was under its control.
I felt powerless.
John wouldn't listen.
He fought it.
And in return,
he was made to suffer.
(whisper): You know...
the truth...
- Open the door!!
- Momma...
Help me.
- Betsy?!
(door creaking)
(roaring sound)
- Kate Batts!
Call back your Furies.
Spare my family.
Take it.
Exact your pound of flesh.
I beg you.
End your curse.
- I put no curse on you,
or your family.
You cursed yourself,
John Bell.
- Oh...
(ominous music)
(whisper): Betsy...
Help me...
(child crying)
(crying child): Help me...
- Remember...
- Precious.
- Momma!
My mom always was a heavy sleeper.
(disembodied voices ):
I was born from the union
of evil and innocence.
Part of her soul died
the night John took her innocence.
Avenge me.
Make him pay
for what he has done to us.
(choking cough)
- Take it.
- Thank you.
Well, you sleep so sound,
you don't even feel me
get out of bed.
- This is Betsy's?
- My mess.
I'll clean it.
(Professor): After that night,
Betsy never heard
from the entity again.
- Mom?
Mom! Dad's here.
I'm leaving.
- Okay.
I love you.
- I love you too.
Bye, Mom.
(whisper): Help her!
- David?