There is an enormous nemesis threatening to destroy the cast of the new movie "An American Haunting."
This tireless, cackling monster has earned his reputation by terrifying actors for decades with his box-office dominance, but these movie stars insist they aren't afraid.
" 'Mission: Impossible' is its own thing," reasoned James D'Arcy, one of the stars of the only wide-release film brave enough to open opposite the monstrous presence of Tom Cruise and his "M:i:III." "If you just allow blockbusters to dominate what happens in cinema, then we as audiences are kind of sunk, because we really don't get that much choice, and so in that respect, I'm kind of proud of us for opening the same weekend."
Based on the only officially accepted case of an apparition-related homicide in the United States, "Haunting" counterprograms "Impossible" with the small, moody story of a Tennessee family haunted from 1818 to 1820.
"I don't particularly believe in the supernatural, but this story is really convincing," said Rachel Hurd-Wood ("Peter Pan"), who plays a possessed young girl in the flick. "I was screaming and crying, and yeah, it was a mess. But it was fun."
"The vast majority of this film is a fairly faithful representation of these documents saying how this family were haunted," said D'Arcy, who plays Hurd-Wood's skeptical schoolteacher. "The very end of the film is a little twist, which is one of several possible reasons as to why this haunting happened."
See Rachel Hurd-Wood struggling for her life against an invisible force in an exclusive clip from "An American Haunting," only on Overdrive.
"I saw, for example, 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' remake," the 15-year-old said. "It was all right. It made me jump and stuff, but it really annoyed me because it was so Hollywood, with the girl running around in the middle of a foggy, wet rain in a see-through shirt. It was like, 'This isn't real horror. This is just more to appeal to a Hollywood audience.' ['Haunting'] is really to appeal to the horror-genre people, and I think that's what makes it so effective."
D'Arcy admitted he's more willing now to believe the film's terrifying details. "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]," D'Arcy laughed.
However, dismissing reports that the witch still haunts to this day, the actor claims he's not scared. "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."
Asked if she believes in the Bell Witch, Hurd-Wood casts a wide grin: "We just did a film about it, so I think I have to," she laughed. "I hadn't heard of it before I did the film. ... Seeing as this is given such a good explanation, then yeah, I believe in it."
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If the stars aren't scared of a real-life ghost, then why should they fear a showdown with an action hero?
"I haven't seen 'Mission: Impossible III,' so I wouldn't be able to tell you, but they're very different genres," Wood said of the David-and-Goliath showdown at this weekend's box office. "One's action, and the other one is horror."
"I don't think it's a question of competition," Hurd-Wood concluded diplomatically. "Go and see both."
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