The world premiere of the movie “Haunting Villisca” was held over the weekend in the same southwest Iowa town where eight people were murdered nearly a century ago.
The movie transposes a fictional modern storyline of a man coming to grips with his wife’s suicide over re-creations of the 1912 ax murders of two adults and six children in the small house.
The film also includes reenactments of parts of the trial, shot in the same Montgomery County courtroom where the real thing took place, using transcripts. The suspect was acquitted and the murders remain unsolved. Most movie-goers who saw the movie’s debut gave positive reviews.
A young woman says: “I’m actually not even from around here so I just came to watch the movie. I thought it was really interesting. A little scary but I’m into that kinda’ scary stuff.” An older man says, “It’ll take me a little while to figure out whether I liked this thing or not.” This man didn’t quite know what to expect but seemed satisfied with the result.
He says: “It was a little different than what I was anticipating. I was thinking it would be more a documentary style but it really had a lot of parts in it that were going back and forth. Pretty provocative, I guess.”
Producers of the film are still working to market it to a wider audience. Many people who saw the movie, which played in Villisca’s downtown theater on Saturday and Sunday, also opted for a tour of the small white house a few blocks away.
This Fort Dodge man took the tour but decided there was no way he’d be spending the night in the structure, which is also an option — for a price.
He says, “It’s just a little eerie because it’s old and nothing’s changed. A little scary. I think my wife and kids would be freaked if they stayed the night.” Many people do want that experience though, and pay $300 a night to see for themselves if anything otherworldly remains following what’s billed as the world’s largest unsolved ax murder. For more information on the film, visit the Haunting Villisca website .