Home > Reviews > AN AMERICAN HAUNTING – Caine Davidson


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Cashing in on the currently in-vogue “demonic possession” sub genre of films, initiated by last year’s surprise hit The Exorcism of Emily Rose, An American Haunting stars Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek and young Rachel Hurd-Wood, and tells the allegedly true story of the Bell family, settlers in rural Tennessee in the early 1800s, who became the first family in American history to have a family member be killed by a malevolent spirit, and to have the death officially recorded as such. The film is directed by Courtney Solomon, whose debut feature was the poorly-received fantasy Dungeons & Dragons in 2000. American Haunting has fared much better, bringing in over $15 million at the US Box Office to date.

Horror movies have long been a proving ground for young composers, and so it is with An American Haunting, which marks the debut of young American composer Caine Davidson. Davidson is a composer-in-residence at Flie Productions in Santa Monica, along with fellow composer Justin Caine Burnett, who scored Dungeons & Dragons six years ago. Who says that Hollywood isn’t incestuous? Seriously, though, Davidson’s work is nothing if not adept: it pushes all the right scary buttons, hits all the right ‘boo’ moments, has plenty of creepy Gothic orchestral grandeur, and earmarks Davidson as a talent to watch.

A traditional scary/beautiful string theme first appears in “Waking from the Nightmare”, segueing nicely into a playful, pastoral representation of historic Tennessee in “The Manuscript”. There’s a spectral choir in “Wolf in the Garden”, unsettling whispers in “Voices in Her Head”, and some strangely twisted Aaron Copland fiddles in “Entity’s Reminder”, but as one might expect, the action and horror cues are the most impressive moments. “Something Evil Here”, “Entity’s First Attack”, “A Violent Attack”, the wonderfully energetic “Attack on Betsy & Theny” and the propulsive “Carriage Attack” are rampant barrages of sound, filled with grand dissonances, the kind of angry orchestral assaults which composers like Christopher Young, Elliot Goldenthal and others have written over the years. The brass snarls, the strings screech, the percussion pounds, and voices wail, leaving the listener in no doubt about the intent of the malevolent spirit. It’s good, wholesome stuff for all the family – if you know what I mean.

Rating: ***½


  • Opening (0:45)
  • The Warning (1:47)
  • Waking From the Nightmare (1:21)
  • The Manuscript (1:51)
  • Something Evil Here (1:55)
  • Entity’s First Attack (1:40)
  • Ethereal Girl (2:37)
  • Wolf in the Garden (1:47)
  • Curse of Kate Batts (1:11)
  • Seance (2:01)
  • A Violent Attack (2:56)
  • Voice in Her Head (2:01)
  • Entity’s Reminder (2:46)
  • The Cave (3:45)
  • Attack on Betsy & Theny (6:20)
  • John Bell’s Curse (5:01)
  • Carriage Attack (4:14)
  • The Truth Revealed (3:47)
  • A Promise Fulfilled (2:38)

Running Time: 50 minutes 32 seconds

MovieScore Media MMS06005 (2006)

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