Film Review: The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

 

SYNOPSIS:

Based on a true story, The Haunting in Connecticut charts one family’s real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner’s clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now unspeakable terror awaits when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the dead, returns to unleash horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family

REVIEW:

This is going to be a very involved review of this film. I will explain as to why shortly. Let’s start with the film.

The film starts out with Sara Campbell bringing her son Matt home from the hospital. During the drive they have to make various stops so he can be sick outside of the car. The rides home from the hospital should only be a couple of hours but turn into eight due to his illness. The family decides they should move to a house closer to the clinic where Matt receives his cancer treatments. Sara looks around and finds a house that seems perfect for her family for space and location reasons. That is until she learns the unattractive past uses of the house. So she decides against it but upon her trip home with Matt from his new treatments, she decides that it would be better just to take him home and not tell anyone of it former life.

The first night of being in the new home, Matt starts experiencing some unusual phenomenon but the doctors told him that hallucinations could be a side effect of the treatments and they would need to be stopped if he experienced any, so he decided not to tell anyone. The family remains clueless as to the history until a room that had previously been sealed opened up and gave them insight as to what used to take place in their new home. The family chooses to ignore it and act as if nothing could be wrong but Matt seems to further into his madness.

Soon his troubles would only get worse as his family starts becoming frightened of his behavior. When the second act reaches its climax, his mother and father start to believe that their son is destined for death and begin to fall apart themselves. But after a mysterious box containing pictures and other items surface, Matt confides in his cousin what he has seen and they set out to find the history of the house. Soon, as the mystery seems to unravel, so does the family and their safety.

As I stated earlier, this is going to be a very involved review. Reason being is that I feel some explanation is needed about a few things.
Let’s start with the review on the film itself.

The movie was actually pretty good! I can honestly say that this is a genuinely scary movie with all the elements to leave you a little creeped out in the dark. The DP really came through with providing the “spooky shots” as I like to call them and gives you something sinister to anticipate all through out the film by capturing angles that leave you uneasy about what is coming up next.

The director, Peter Cornwell, I feel did a great job with letting the movie flow to it’s own pace and keeping things very creepy. The film has this essence of unease through out that allows you just to follow and gleefully dread what’s going to happen next. And here’s a fun fact, when Matt is in the waiting room of the hospital, you can see excerpts from Cornwell’s award winning short film WARD 13 playing on the television. I actually enjoyed that touch very much. I felt Cornwell took this script to the next level.

Virginia Madsen (Sara) and Kyle Gallner (Matt) both did great jobs in making you feel their character’s plights. There is a certain scene where Sara is crying and pleading for her son that actually brought tears to my eyes. And trust me folks, that aint easy to do! And I actually found myself completely sucked in by Gallner’s performance to the point that you really believe he is this sick and going through all of these things. Great job to the both of you!

I have to say these special effects in this film are noteworthy as well. The “dead” didn’t have a plastic appearance like you see in a lot of these newer films these days and the bodies were fricken awesome if you ask me. I can’t go into too much as I don’t believe in spoilers, but you FX lovers out there will appreciate the craftiness.

Now this is where it gets more involved. I seriously have to question Adam Simon’s and Tim Metcalf’s decision of how they decided to write this script. This film is being judged on the story and how it played onto the screen. So I will say now, if know the real story of the house and the Snedekers and are expecting that out of this film, you will be extremely disappointed. It’s like going to the theater expecting Slipknot and Brittany Spears is on stage. I do have to say that the writers took the “bubble gum” route on this one. The real story takes place over two years as where in the film, seemingly only a few weeks if that. The ghosts were a lot more violent in real life than portrayed in the film, all of the family members were subjected to rape, abuse, and constant terror by the entities in the house but the film only gives the rest of the family minimal involvement and I won‘t go into the real morticians history that they so lovingly left out.

I don’t understand why the writers played it so safe with films like House of 1000 Corpses and even the new Last House remake being meant to shock and scare the audience. You HAVE to separate the film from the full true story to be able to appreciate it. If you can do that, you will probably really enjoy the film as it deserves to be enjoyed. It’s not anyone’s fault besides the writers that the film is so far off the true stories path. But on the other hand, leaving the fact of where they got their source of inspiration, this was a good script as well. I liked it all in all! It is one I will definitely watch again once it hits DVD.

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About Dai Green

DaiDai Green is a contributor to HorrorNews.net. She created the column "Dai of The Dead"

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