It’s a Thriller!

It surprises the hell out of me that I’m reviewing this for PFS. Full page ads in newspapers, as well as the film’s trailers, sell the picture as a big classic period drama about ex-slaves. What they don’t tell you is the plot.

Oprah Winfrey stars as a runaway slave living in Ohio, 1865, with her only surviving child, a teenage girl named Denver. Old friend Danny Glover shows up one day, and decides to move on in – despite the fact that the house is the center of violent poltergeist activity!

The house is haunted by the ghost of Oprah’s other daughter, who died as a baby. Ever since, the family has grown further and further from the community. Glover manages to chase off the ghost through force of will, but it soon returns, taking on the flesh of a full-grown woman.

Like Saving Private Ryan, this is another film that masks its exploitation elements in a cloak of respectability. As a supernatural thriller, it’s first rate, splendidly crafted by director Jonathan Demme.Unfortunately, it’s grafted to another 90 minutes or so of intense drama. If either movie could be separated from the other, each would probably find an audience, but I’m afraid a lot of Oprah’s TV fans will be plenty shocked by all the gross-out scenes on display.

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