All this ectoplasm and no Venkman!
Looks like Hollywood is at it again, fooling people to go see their movie by touting it as a true story. This movie is as true as The Mothmen Prophecies, where only the event of a bridge collapsing was factual. At the end of the day, people just want to see a scary @$$ horror movie, leave your “true story” marketing antics to football movies studio execs!
I think people know what they are expecting when they go see The Haunting in Connecticut: Loud creeks, bumps in the night, and “did I just see that, or is my mind playing tricks on me” type scares. This is what audiences are expecting but they’re hoping for a good movie out of those cheap scares. So is it what they are hoping for? Peak your head inside….(note:some decent spoilers)
Yes, it is your run of the mill haunted house movie, and while there have been plenty of those (read: bad) in the past, this one does a pretty decent job. Will it rank as one of your horror favorites? Probably not, but it still might entertain you that one night in the movie theater. If you’re a guy, your girlfriend may still jump at the scares that were already revealed in the trailer, so there’s that too.
Let’s do a quick rundown of the characters and story before we get down to the nitty, gritty ectoplasm. It’s 1987 (unfortunately no 80’s music plays during the film), and the Campbell’s eldest son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is getting more ill by the day as a result of having cancer. The hospital treating Matt with an experimental procedure is too far away from their household to make frequent trips with their son. Sara (Virginia Madsen) moves Matt, her two young kids, and her niece into a nearby rental, while her husband continues working back at home as a contractor.
Matt chooses the basement as his bedroom, which is where all the bad sh*t happened years ago. Because of his ailing condition, or should I say his nearing to the “valley of death”, the teenage is most susceptible to the paranormal possessions and ectoplasmic-filled flashbacks that are inflicted on him. His family blames the effects of the treatment on the boy’s bizarre behavior, but Casey Jones…errr, should I say Reverend Popescu (Elias Koteas) snaps Sarah out of her stupidity and diagnoses the place as haunted. Turns out the place was once a funeral home run by Aickman and his ghost channeling medium Jonah. Aickman dug up bodies and desecrated them through ritual, causing the spirits to stick to their earth realm continuously pissed off. Just when the Reverend thinks he has saved the house from its damnation, he realizes he has royally f*cked up. The rage of the house takes over, and it’s up to Matt and his ghostly apparition sidekick Jonah to save the day.
“The Haunting in Connecticut” borrows elements from “The Shining”, “The Exorcist”, and “Amityville Horror”, but doesn’t take a piss over those classics. The cheap scares are pretty effective but, as said earlier, you might feel cheated that the biggest ones are in the trailer. All the actors do a competent job and it’s always nice to see Casey Jones starring in something not going direct to video. What did I find wrong with the movie? A number of movie inconsistencies/clichés and dumb character mistakes that are way too unbelievable. (SPOILERS kick in here)
Wendy, Sara’s niece, decides to find out what is going on to Matt after finding suspicious pictures hidden in the house. First of all, Aickman and Jonah are revealed to have been killed by the rage of the spirits after attempting to channel the dead. So who hid the pictures and why? And, though it’s a bit of a nitpick, Wendy finds everything out about the house with one trip to the library and conveniently rattles out everything we need to know about the story (sans one twist) to Matt and the audience. The Great Library of Exposition has come in quite handy in this film, but I would have rather had more building clues then “here is all the stuff you need to know in more tight little package”.
Another story inconsistency I found was, during one of Matt’s flashbacks, it seems as if Jonah is being abused by Aickman….but this is never explained. During another scene, Sara’s husband strolls into the house drunk and angry that all the lights are on in the house. The audience also sees that all the lights, from a view outside the house, are all on…but at the same time Sara and her family are shown in their bedrooms with the lights off. Right before that sequence, I should also mention, a ghost scares the sh*t out of Sara in her bedroom. What does a person do after seeing a creepy as hell ghost at the foot of their bed? Why, go right back to sleep of course!
A few more issues haunting the film: (for the exception of Jonah’s appearance to one of the Campbell kids) the “vengeful” ghosts begin to show up to the family right after the Reverend officially confirms to Sara the place is haunted. It’s as if the dead in the house said, “Well, the cats out of the bag. Let’s go and haunt these mofos.” Prior to that moment, only Matt is susceptible to the sightings.
I am not going to give away the ending, but a final scare rather than a documentary type closing…would have been more uplifting to audiences leaving the movie house. So, all in all, I would say to go to the local theatre to see it…just don’t expect it to end up as part of your DVD collection. While I found it to be entertaining that frightful night, it seemed that audience in the preview screening mostly disagreed with me.
Matt’s Awesomeness Score: 7 out of 10!