Movie Review: The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)
Aubrey Ward III
I'm not telling you what to see. I'm not telling you what not to see. I'm just sharing my experience and opinion on the movie, tv show or play that I have seen. I'm merely an advisor. Ultimately, you will have to go with your own gut and decide if you'll buy the ticket or not.View all articles by Aubrey Ward III
I know most critics have bashed The Haunting In Connecticut for being more of the same. If you saw The Shining or The Amityville Horror then it seems there’s nothing new under the Connecticut sun. And there’s some truth to that. It’s the same classic story about restless spirits that need to be properly laid to rest and the reluctant civilians that accept the mission in the hopes of restoring peace to their lives and the ghosts’ afterlives. Doors slam unexpectedly. Moans can be heard through the pipes. Dishes break without explanation. Been there, done that and will probably do it again when the next possessed house film is unveiled.
Fluorescent Light: The Most Effective Ghost Hunting Weapon - Amanda Crew as "Wendy"
What I liked was the cancer element. As morbid as that sounds, Matt’s condition and the affect of his situation on his family add a refreshing element to the familiar formula. I empathized with the family even more than I probably would have if the plot were about just another perfect family moving in to their prospective dream home. The cancer treatment also makes it difficult for Matt to open up about his shadowy visitors. I thought it was cool that Matt tried to keep his findings quiet lest his doctor find out and cancel the experimental treatments. And then when Matt finally can’t keep it to himself everyone thinks the little blue pills are in the driver’s seat.
I think my enjoyment of the film was also helped by my fascination of the netherealm. I love that stuff about lost souls and the methods used to guide them to “the light”. The backstory about the house isn’t just you’re usual Indian burial ground snafu. Way back in like the early 1900s or something like that, Dr. Aickman (John Bluethner), ran the funeral home while conducting séances on the side. Together, Dr. Aickman and his young medium, Jonah (Erik J. Berg), helped distraught loved ones speak with their dead relatives. Without giving away the whole tuna salad, Aickman does a major spiritual no-no and the house becomes cursed thanks to his overly ambitious actions.
If You Can Read The Writing On Matt's Back......Then You Are Probably Possessed By A Demon. Congratulations! - The Back of Kyle Gallner (Matt)
Not all was perfect in Connecticut, though. After the house lights came on and the adrenaline leveled back to “normal” I realized that there were a few flaws that sprung immediately to my mind. Whether they are minor or vastly important is up to your perspective to decide.
Firstly was the music. I know that the usual horror movie tradition is to lace the film with musical cues. Like when Sara turns around and is startled by Matt standing behind her. I not only hear Sara’s gasp of surprise but also the musical equivalent of her brief moment of shock. I guess I was just annoyed that every little scary moment had to have an alarm next to it.
I was also simultaneously amused and annoyed by the convenience of everything. When Matt tells his cousin, Wendy (Amanda Crew), about the ghosts in the house she goes to the library to learn about the history of the house. I thought it was cool that she got on the ball quick and I chuckled at how we used to do research back in 1987 B.G. (Before Google). And then Wendy narrates a nicely paced montage about Dr. Aickman’s funeral home. The last time I went to a library to look up newspapers via microfiche they’re files went up to the 1950s. What a stroke of luck that the great town library kept records of articles from as far back as 1910. And if the house had such notoriety shouldn’t the property have been declared a historic monument or something? Some accounts from previous occupants? How about the usual group of neigborhood tots that taunt the younger Campbell kids with creepy stories about their new home?
Oh, Great Spirits, Please Tell Me If Matt's Hot Cousin Digs Bald Guys - Elias Koteas (Reverend Popescu), Amanda Crew (Wendy) and Kyle Gallner (Matt)
Reverend Popescu (Elias Koteas) is the key to solving the other part of the Aickman House mystery. How fortunate for Matt to find the friendly pastor at the same cancer center he gets his treatment from. Popescu is not only an expert on The Word but also on the spiritual realm. Once Matt and Wendy share their findings with Popescu the spiritually minded preacher knows exactly the next course of action to take. What a "coinkydink" that Popescu is also a former Psychic Friend, right?
Matt himself is a victim of the aligning stars that place him in that house. According to the film’s philosophy Matt is the most sensitive of the Campbell clan to things of supernatural nature. Because Matt is teetering on that line between the alive and the deceased the restless spirits can interact with him much easier than the other tenants. Well, that is until the final act of the film. Anyway, I only ever heard about symptoms like hair loss, energy depletion and nausea. I didn’t realize a side effect of cancer was acquiring the ability to talk to dead people. I also wondered why after the first nightmare Matt didn’t scurry out of the basement. It’s, like, the #1 place you avoid in a haunted house and he sets up a cot down there. Is it me or do horror movies constantly seem to have characters that have never seen a horror movie before?
No, Son, That's Not Quite The Color I Had In Mind. I Was Thinking More Of A Kool-Aid Fruit Punch Kind Of Red. Crimson Will Clash With The Tablecloth. Good Try, Though - Virginia Madsen (Sara) and Kyle Gallner (Matt)
I would say that if you like movies about haunted houses and trapped spirits then The Haunting In Connecticut will probably fail to knock your socks off but it might keep you entertained for an hour and a half. The pop-up scares are perfect date movie ammunition that will keep your squeamish partner nestled up nice and close to you. The only part of the “true story” that I believed to be completely valid is Matt’s cancer battle and the sacrifices his family made to help him win. While some of the spooky stuff might have been factual it’s hard to swallow a ghost story that’s soaked in so much ectoplasm.
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