A Southern Haunting (2023) - full transcript

After receiving 40-acres, an ex-slave family battles man and myth to uncover the truth behind their land.

- Girl, get inside.

- Stop starring Elijah.

- Why?

- Just dont, okay?

- All ridle and move.

- Move on.

- Home.

- When can we go in?

- When I say so. Now, stop.

Always complaining.

- I'm not!

- Just hot.

- Pa!


Stay there!

- They're fresh.

- Did you see anyone?

Don't tell the others.

Clean this up.

- Wait!

- Hey! You better stop
playing before mas--

- Are we in trouble?

- No.

No ,you ain't.

But you gonna be if I catch you.

That's everything.

- Leave a set of clothes in
the cart for each
of you.

- But we just finished

- You heard me.

- Good night boys.

- Night.

- Night.

- Night, Lula.

Night, Mama

Good night, father.

- Five of us and no horse.

Phil's got to have 2 months
worth of just removing rock.

Still don't see why
we can't plant cotton.

- It's cause you know some
don't make you
slave to it.

- Tobacco?

- Watch strain backs.

Shred fingers and we
can stand tall.


We're gonna stand on
the tips of
our toes

as we reach for our peaches.

- Peaches?

- Advect

It means no way to the rival.

- Will these grow if I stick
them in the ground?

- No.

- I wasn't asking you.

- He's right,

you need to see

- well, guess I'll just
show Mama where they're

growing when she gets here.

- Hey, we were reading that.

- They're so pretty.

- No they ain't. They
don't make any sense.

- They're art, they
don't need to.

- Then why did she draw
them in there?

- Because there's nowhere
else to draw.

- I wish I could draw
as good as her.

- Well you can't, now give it.

- No.

- Give it.

- Elisha!

- Damn it! You scared
my deer,
and I-

- It had already
heard your shot.

- What did you say?

- Look kid, hey now, he didn't
mean nothing
by it.

- What's going on here?

- Look no, wait. Look.

- Why don't you run up
and let the
man talk?

- Do not do this, alright?
Abe, apologize.

Apologize to the man.

- Go on.

- Let him go!

- Look, just, we can just
talk this out, okay?

As long as you just let him go,

I'll let y'all hunt
here anytime.


Lula, just put the rock down.

These men are just here
to shoot their deer

Put the rock down.

Go on.

- Next time a dirty hand
disrespects your family,

you don't hesitate.
Do you hear me?

And as for all you, I bet they
ain't even telling you

why they generously this
here piece of paradise.

- It doesn't matter.
It's ours now.

- For now.

- What he mean they ain't
telling us everything?

- Where'd you come from?


You sit on this and watch me.

I will teach you how
to make a bed.

Somebody up here?

- What's taking you so long?

Henny, what did you do?

-I don't know.

I don't know.

- I was standing right outside
and nothing came
in or out.

- What's going on in here?

- There was someone in the

It tried to get me.

They were just...

- Stop all this playing.

- I ain't lying, Lula saw it.

- Is this true?

- No.

- Lula, why are you saying...

- Beds will be made
before dinner.

- What?

- Why did you say that?

- He wouldn't have believed
us anyway.

- Why are we hiding?

- Hello!

- We're not, now be quiet.

- Then I'm gonna see what
business they want.

- Stay here.

- Stay here.

- Stay here.

- For a while, we only thought
we'd imagined hearing voices.

I'm Tyron O'collen.

This here is Fionagle or

Fiona for short.

We were just heading into town.
We figured we could
stop by.

Well, it's not much but
a bit of a welcome.

- Looks good.

- That's near an infection.


It's- whoa, hey.


It's good. It'll help.



we won't be a bother to
you folks
no more.


We found this on a path and
nearly and run
it over,

I assumed it's yours?

Are you all able to read
that? I though that

it was illegal for a...

- Old man's eyes and word.

House hands had to learn.

- Mother always said the
path of salvation,

was found in those pages.

- I fancy myself more of
a man of science but

I do enjoy a good fiction.

In fact,

I was user lead

to teach Fiona English.

Might have been a little
too ambitious.

Do you ever read any Turo
Dickerson, Powell?

- We were only allowed
the Good Book.

- Times certainly have
changed but...

- Just so you know,

we don't need your handouts.

- I'll tell you what

when you're through with them,

You can give them back to me.

Consider it a loan.

Right. Well, that's it for us.

If you need anything,

we live just across the field.

- Master always said
it was his right
to shoot

any man on his land.

-We count on them,

we gonna have more problems
than just this stubborn field.

- You know the difference

a farm and a slave?

- No sir.

-One treats his land-- his seed,

his tools with respect

cause he knows it's the only
thing keeping
him alive.

The other one just a tool.

- You're not eating your bread.

- What's that for?

- Keeps the others out.

- Sure it's not to keep us in?

- Lula, don't say that.

- No. He needs to accept
that we are free

and stop putting us
in a new cage.

- You speak like a goddamn
child about things
you don't

know nothing about.

- You're just scared.

Her biggest mistake
was trusting you.

Maybe she'd be the one standing
here if she hadn't

listened to you.

- Stop staring.

- Eat your food.

- What are you doing out there?


Abe, come on.

Let's go to bed.

Come on.

Let's go.

- He's been like that
for a while.

- Why are you awake?

- What are you wearing?

- Abe, let's just go lie down.

- He won't move.

- Come on, don't wake father.


- Henrietta, would
you like some tea?

Sure you do.

One for you

and one for me.

Here, remember, pinky's
up always.

You have to have your pinky up

when we drink tea.

Very classy.

- He wasn't upstairs?

- No.

And be careful with that,
besides both of you
are supposed

to be reading.

- Don't listen to her.

She thinks she's everyone Mama
but really,
she's just

your annoying auntie.

- Which still makes me
your older sister.

So start reading.

Abe, you out there?

- Reading is stupid. This
place is stupid.

I wish we could just
go back home.

- Never call it that.

- You said you hate it here.

- N.othing in this house can do
will ever make it
as bad as that



Where have you gone?

- Lula

- What's wrong with him?

- Abe?

- Come on.

He's inside.

- Warm water.

Not too hot.

Abe, can you hear me?

- We need a doctor, not a baker.

- I am a doctor

or was studying to be one.

- Why'd you stop?

-Well, around here,

no one wants a visit
from an old colon.

Doctor or not.

- Do you know what's
wrong with him?

- Abe, can you hear me?

Where did you say you found him?

- Abe...

- Are you okay?

- Where were you?

- Why isn't he moving?

- Abe...


If you're in there, hang on.

It's Lula,


Keep first to feed him,

keep him strong

and make sure it's small enough
so that he doesn't choke,

you got that?

In the mean time, I'll
head to town,

see if I'll get some medicine.

- We can't pay you
for this visit,

nor that medicine.

I wasn't asking.

- He gonna get better,

and his crops gonna grow.

People say it's a land
and it ain't right.

- There are

rumors, sure,

but that's not what's
happening here.

I went to school with a man
who studies Earth
and soil,

I'm sure he could be of some
help if he knows
it's for me.

- Your attention is required
for an officer
of these

United States.

- All lands


on the 7th fifteenth

shall enter

into profit sharing.

- The bureau decreed this?

- Decreed or not,

you all received these
lands from the victims

and those under grace.

- Victims? How can you
call them that?

- Do not


an officer

of the United States.

- Take it easy, lieutenant.

Unless you got color blind

you're wearing blue now.

As I was saying,

this land here hasn't been
tilled for going
on 3 years.

As such, you've been
granted an extension

of one month.

- And when is that?

- 6 months from yesterday.

- But we just got
here 2 weeks ago.

- And what will your harvest be?

- Peaches.

- In 6 months?

- Cotton.

We gonna grow cotton.

- What did I tell you?

I told you

- They'll die before
they even sprout.

- Sour.

- Abe, hand me that spoon.

Hey, hand me the spoon.

- Henny


I'm talking to you.

What's wrong?

- I lost Henrietta.

- Who?

- It's my doll.

- Ain't you too old
to have a doll?

- She was my friend.

- What about me?

- You're my sister.

- Now, sisters can't be friends?

- Were you Mama's friend?

- No.

I mean,

she was our Mama.

- See?

Guess I'll never know if Mom
and I could be friends.

- So you're saying

you know she's gone?

- I'm just scared

that Abe is gone too.

- We're gonna get
him through this.


By taking care of us first.

You understand?

- Where's my son?

Where are you hiding him?

Where's my son?

- Stop! You're hurting him.

- Where's my son?

What's happening here?


I'm sorry.

- Go on.

- It looks like our old house.



- Yeah.

Could be a reaction to

poison ivy or poison oak.

I have something for him.

You just...

You grind it up

and deliver it with water.

Start off by

giving him half of it

cause you'd open half
each day for
5 days.

I know it's complicated,

I wish there were an easier way.

- You can measure it with a
string and divide
each day.

- Hmm...

Yeah. I think--

I think you might be smarter
than me.

That would work.

- He's always figuring
things like
that out.

- We all have our gifts and

yours is currently for caring.

- Henrietta!

There you are.

- What is that doing here?

- Those are Fiona's things

- Thanks so much
for finding her.

- Why
don't you
two go?

- Okay.

- And don't go further
than I can see.

- Come on Elisha, let's go.

- Lula said not to run off.

- Come on, don't be a baby.

Let's go explore.

- Why don't she speak English?

Your sister?

- Well,

where I come from,

that's how everyone speaks.

There are, of course, those
who are trying
to erase it.

- Is that why you came here?

-That and an empty stomach.

What's up?

That necklace you keep
playing with.

- I found it

along with a journal.

- Journal?

What did it say?

- I can only read a few pages.

Did you know her?

The woman that lived
in my house?

- Well, the war begun shortly
after we arrived


we never really shared
the same views.

- Come on, we should go.

- What? No.

- People thinks she
cursed our land.

- You know, I've heard what
other people think
my whole life.

If we spent half the
resources wasted on

silly superstitions on
Science, we couldn't.

Who knows?

Send a man

to the moon

- Now who's being silly?

- Henny, Elisha,
it's time to go.

How far your land go?

- Well you're looking at it.

Your land actually surrounds
us on 3 sides

and then, the first
and the other.

- At least they can't take
it away from you.

Your friend,

the one that knows
about the soil...

- I could ask but

it's complicated.

- What did I tell you two?

- Sorry.

- Thanks Tyron,

for everything.

- You awake?

- That was you.

- Elisha, you awake?

- I'm awake.

- So why ain't anyone sleeping?

- Because you keep talking.

- I don't like closing my eyes.

- Yeah. I need to go to sleep.

- Well whenever I sleep,

I start hear her.

- Who?

- I don't like her either.

- You both heard her?

- Why didn't anyone wake me?

What you gonna do with those?

- We need more seed,

not dresses.

- They're here.

- You should have asked
the previous owner

about the land before buying.

- Well, people lie, you know?

- So what about it? Can
you fix the land?

- Result like this wouldn't
make sense being contained

to just the top soil.

- Are we hiding again?

- Tyron says it has
to be his land

or his friend won't help us.

- Father's gonna be so mad
you gave away
our farm.

- Abe, do you know what's
wrong with it?

I promise to stop kicking you
in my sleep if you
come back.

You can even have the
whole blanket.

I don't need it.

And Henny found her doll

It was...

Abe, what are you-

- Elijah, time to get
ready for bed.

- Abe, come on, come on.

- I ain't even tired.

- And I wasn't asking.

- Elijah!

- Can we just stay up until
father gets back?

- No.

But the man really
gonna help us?

- I don't know.

I don't want either of
you two going
near him

if he does, understood?

Elijah, enough.

- Where is it?

- What?

- Mama's Bible.

- Oh, you're in trouble?

- But I wanted to show
you something.

- Bed, now. Come on.

- Can you sing to us?

- I don't sing.

- Well you used to

with Mama.

- Only if you sing with me.

- Tyron.

- Under the bed, now.

- But you just said-

- Now! Help me with Abe.

Go, go, go, go.

- Couldn't fill the
first but look.

- You're right.

Devil gone and kiss this land.

You got any of your
sister's bread?

- Doctor's not here.

- Who the hell are you?

- He'll be back in a few hours.

- That doesn't answer
my question.

Now I'll ask you again,
who are you?

- A friend Tyron's. We
just passing through.

- Friend? Are you getting
cute with me?

Maybe I'll just stay, wait
so the doctor
comes back

and have a little conversation
with about the company

he's been keeping.

What's wrong with him?

- We don't know, that's why
we brought
him her.e

Tyron's gonna fix him.

- So it don't like there's
much to fix.

Since this is my friend's
house, why don't you
wait outside?

- Why don't we both?

- You're asking me to wait
outside like
a dog?

Where's Fiona? I'm hungry.

- She's with Tyron.

- I thought I told you
to wait outside

and take the lame one.

This here is not your home.

- You're wrong.

- Henny, stay in your
room, please.

Let me find Tyron and he
can explain everything.

- Find? If you get a man,
it'd be on his
own house.

- He doesn't live here.

- Where are you going?

- I just wanted to

tell you I believe you.

A good doctor felt sorry and
gave you this
hair broken

land to share crop.

- We ain't no share croppers.

- Any more of you?

So you're saying this
is your land?

- It's more ours
than any other.s

- You know, a lot of
my friends died

because of you, and
you, and you.

Now, the government's just
giving your their
land before

they're even cold.

- Tyron was just trynna
help us fix
our land.

- Your friend is always
preaching. If I
could just see

beyond that bark skin get those
stuff on the inside,
I'd see.

We're all the same.

What do you say? Should we test
the good doctor's
theory out

on this low one?

- We asked you nicely to leave.

- What are you gonna
do with that?

- Maybe cut you open?

Prove we ain't nothing alike.

You're just a gutless pig.

Run outside. Find Tyron.

- Now come on out.

- Abe,


- Where are you?

- How did you do that?

- Come on out.

Enough games. I'm serious.

- Wait no, Elijah, wait. Where
are you going? Stop!

- You can keep this cursed plot.

- Elijah.

- It's stuck.

- This place is cursed.

- What are you doing?


- What else do we have to loose
for you to understand

this place ain't right?

- You don't think there's
greater evils outside
these fences?

- Mother feared nothing,

maybe that's the real reason
she left you!

- She had fears.

Her biggest one was loosing you.

- Then there's nothing
left to fight over.

- Why you be wearing that?

- You're right.

She'll just come for this too.

We don't belong here.

- This all they gave you?

For all those dresses?

- They said they were stolen.

- Well, that's a lie
and they know it.

He said it was kissed
by the devil.

- Devil ain't never
kissed nothing.

- Where are you--


I can't do this without you.

His forty acres are his prison.

Not mine.

- What I'm I doing?

Tyron! Fiona! Tyron!

- Lula.

- Tyron!

- Oh, you're hurt.

Look at this mess.

Where's Fiona?

- I haven't seen her in days.

- You need a doctor.

- I am a doctor.

- Malachi thinks
I own your land.

What if anyone else knows
you live here?

Your family could be
in danger tonight.


there's something else,
isn't there?

- Elijah,

he's dead

- How?

- Your friend, he came back.

- I'll kill the man.

- No.

- I'll kill him.

- Calm down, calm down.

- I'm sorry.

We need to contact the

- So they can do more
or the same? No.

I'll figure it out on my own.

- She's still not back?

- Henny, you need to
get some sleep.

- Not without her.


- Do you really think--

- Can you read it?

- Yeah.

It's just... There's something
about it.
A secret?

She was the first to keep

even from her husband and...

And then he found out and
he laid hands
on her.

And he just... He kept
laying hands
on her.

- What was the secret?

- It doesn't say.
It just says that

when the war begun, I prayed
for it to take
my husband.

And it did.

But that's not all,
it also took my

little girl.


- Is that all it says?
It says more?

- Lula!



- Hey, not now. We're
keeping an
eye out.

Abe, stop.

Come on Abe, please.

- He's just scared
of loosing you.

- We lost each other years ago.

- Lula...

If you're not gonna leave my
side, at least let
me escort you


We need to make sure
your family
is okay.

- Here, Henrietta
will protect you.

Now, stay put until
father gets back.

And if Henrietta starts to--



Abe, this is no time for games.



- Henny? Father?

- Perhaps they're out
looking for you.

- Tyron?

- What is it?

- I don't know.

- It makes no sense.

- It's a puzzle.

- You might be smarter than me.

- He's always figuring
things like
that out.

- He figured it out.

- What does it mean?

- It's a map.

This was my mother's.

- That was your mother's--

- She left years ago.

She must have passed
through here before.

- How on Earth would your
mother pass through this--

- Father said, if she ever left
again to never
come back

and she never did.

-No, I don't understand
Lula. Lula...

- She's gonna be so
happy to see me.

- Lula, Lula wait.

- That's it.

- Lula!


- I don't see how any of this
is gonna bring back
your mother.

- She marked this well
on this land for
a reason.

If there's anything down there,
a clue or another map

to where she went after this,

I have to see for myself.

Wait, stop here.

I can't move.

- Everyone inside,.

- Fiona?

- We can't climb in these.

- Mama.

-You have to hide them.

- The map, where is it?

- Safe hands.

- No Mama, you can't trust her.

- Everyone, take my hand.

- Tyron, thank God.

- What are you doing
here? Give
me that.

- I don't understand.

- This her?

- No.

No. she's the help.
It's not her.

It's nothing.

- It is shit like that when
no one likes
your kind.

- Evening, lieutenant.

- Evening.

- Tyron, if you've finished
cleaning the burner
and feeding the

hogs, I'll need your help with
the uniforms for
these fine


-Oh no, no. We ain't
here for uniforms

- Do you want some coffee
or tea then?

- Okay.

- Where are they?

- I don't know who you mean.

- They know the truth.

- Check it.

- Nothing.

- Told you there's nothing
there, alright?


- Check again.

- Tyron.

- These people are my slaves.

- Uh-huh...

- These are my slaves. You
can't take my slaves.

- I'm disappointed in you.

Hey, hey alright,
find the others.

- This wasn't part of the
agreement. I gave
you the station,

you gave me the land. You never
said anything about killing


- Yeah, well this is
war and people die.

- He would never have
told you it's
a lie.

They're not runaways,
they're my slaves.

These people are my property!


- And here I thought Tyron
was your field bitch.

- Be strong, our story
is long ago.

- I'm gonna cut you a deal,
alright? You cut
the rope

of your master

and I'll set you free.

-You confuse freedom with being
free, I will never
cut that rope

- Very well.



go on.

- No!


- Take my hand.

- This was a new shirt.

I will require your
services after all.

- I don't know how far
she could have gone.

- And you just let her go?

- You know how stubborn
she can be.

- What the hell is wrong with

- Lula!

- I'm ready.

- I was worried sick.

- Where's father?

- He's with the children.

- I need to see them.
Just help
me out.

- I'm sorry. My hand slipped.

Did you find anything
interesting down there?

- Tyron, what are you doing?

- It's just I'm no
fool all times.

You see anything?

- I told you I didn't
see anything.

- You saw her, didn't you?

- Please? Just let me out.

- I swore I had seen
your eyes before

but how is that possible?

- Please just listen to me.

- Of all the farms in the
world, they had to
give you mine.

- Tyron, you can make this
right. Together, we
can fix this land

- Cursed?

Isn't that how you described it?

- I'm coming.

-I'm sorry Lula, but human
beings are simply to
selfish to share

- Help! Help! Help!

- But it's not any easier if I-

- I'm so sorry.

- Hey, it's okay. It's okay.

- I'm so sorry.

- It's okay.

I know everything
is gonna be okay.

It's gonna be okay.

- Mother, Tyron betrayed her.

- I know.

- Abe! Down here.

- I never should have left him.

He took the children.
He took them.

- No! No, they're hiding.

- Where are they?

- Henny?

In here.

This whole farm was mama's
station before she
was betrayed.

She never stopped hiding.

- Lula, get back.

- She had to keep her promise

to always come home, trust me.

Why hasn't she taken me?

I need her. I always needed her.

- No, no, no

You're strong.

I trust you, you're strong
enough to help keep

this family together.

Even when no one else could.

Every time I look at you, I see
the future in
your eyes.

Your mother saw it too.

And now, it's your
Mom who needs you.

Go on, I trust you.

I trust you.

- Quickly, they're
coming for us.

- Henny? Abe?

- Don't make a sound. I
have to get the others.

- No, we have to stop.

- We leave at night, the next
station is a.

- No, you have to stop.

- What are you--

How did you get this?

- Mama, don't you see? It's me.

- Lula!

You've grown so much.

But how? I've only been
gone one week.

- You've been gone a long time.

- Where am I?

- Home.

You kept your promise.


where's Henny?

- They
are coming
for us.

- No, they're not.

And if we're gonna survive
this, we have to
have all
of us.

You need to return Abe and
tell me where
Henny is.

Just take
my hand.

- No, Mama it's time to let go.

- So strong.

So beautiful.

You promise, take their
hand whenever
they need.

Be kind to your father.

You are right, no more hiding.

- Father!

I'm in here.


- Lula?

- Henny? Henny, you're
okay. I found you.

- You're okay.

I wanna go home.

- Do you know where we are?

- Father! Father! Where are you?

- Help!

- Lula!

- Henny, I'm not gonna let
anything happen
to you.

- Help me. Help me move that.

We can do this.

Go, go, go.

- Everything's okay.

- See father?

- We got this.

- What ya'll doing?
We need to work.

- Abe...

- Abe, you're back.

- They'll take care of
each other over there.

- You must live on your
own, are you?

- We picked our last name.

- And what is it?

- Henny Mothers.

- Abraham Mothers.

- Lula Mothers.

- We're gonna grown peanuts
'till our peaches mature.

- Well incase you ain't heard,
your president
has been shot

- By decree of--

- It don't matter.

Nothing this letter says can
ever take away what
we've done.