'American' Director Hones His 'Haunting'
Courtney Solomon has a lot riding on his spooky new movie
The film, which tells the largely true story of the only instance in American history in which a spirit is credited with causing a fatality, opened at the AFI event and received some solid reviews, but when certain negative comments -- too repetitious, too many scares -- kept popping up, Solomon took pause.
"Everybody can't be wrong and I'm right," Solomon admits. "I'd like to think that, but the truth is ... ."
The director, whose only previous feature credit was 2000's forgettable "Dungeons & Dragons," had the opportunity to take a return to his film. With sufficient distance from his first finished cut, he set to work.
"I had the footage to fix it and there was reediting I could do, changing of the voice-over on the film, how the story played, a lot of things," Solomon says. "I mean, it's a substantial reedit of the movie, not just a little reedit of the movie. I mean, substantial -- you could look at the two beside each other and yeah, you're going to see similarities, but it is not the same movie."
Solomon spent so much time revising "Haunting," which features Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek and Rachel Hurd-Wood, that he was unable to get the new cut overseas in time for the movie's British release. Thus, American audiences will get to see a film with a different focus.
"I actually thought what I did was I took everything down a whole notch on purpose," he explains. "The music's not this big monster thing anymore. I wanted to go more with the creaks and the sounds in the house."
Solomon continues, "I went much or on the suspense side. I went much more on the tension side and not so much the trying to go 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' at you just for the sake of doing it."
For Solomon, more than just post-"Dungeons" redemption is riding on "Haunting." The project is being released, marketed and promoted through his new AfterDark Films banner.
"I wanted to make it so that people really knew that this was a true story, that the materials were good, that they were interesting, that the movie had a chance -- because it's an independent movie -- and didn't just get picked up and put out kinda OK so they could make a couple of bucks, to be honest with you," says Solomon of why he assumed so much control.
He continues, "And I hoped that I was gonna then create a structure for this where, if it works, then we'll have a company that will be like a Miramax or a New Line was and I can hire a staff and not just do my films, but actually acquire other indie films that people should see that can be commercial and marketable, but aren't getting out there."
"An American Haunting" opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, May 5.