Director – Peter Cornwell
Cast – Kyle Gallner, Virgina Madsen, Amanda Krew, Elias Koteas, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight, Ty Wood, Erik J. Berg
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
We have been given many films over the years that claim to be “based” or “inspired” by true events, and while most of them are really only 10 percent true, this film comes with more credibility and documentation than the majority of those other “true events” films.
The Haunting in Connecticut, based on the book “In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting” by Ray Garton(which is currently out of print), tells the tale he brought forth after investigating the events that plagued a family during their tenure in this NOW famous house. The story follows the Campbell household as they move to a home in Connecticut to be closer to the hospital where their cancer ridden son, Matt, is undergoing an experimental treatment to rid him of the cancer. At first they wonder why the rent for the home is so cheap, until they discover that the home used to be a funeral home, with a built in mortuary in the basement. Right away Matt begins to see things, shadows move in the hallways, and he is forced into creepy flashbacks that show a mortician doing some weird and pretty terrible things that involve the living…and the dead. With his cancer treatment kicking in and giving him excruciating pain, Matt realizes that no one believes what he is seeing and must fend for himself against whatever evil force is inside the house, and is preying on his weak and dying body to get what it wants.
It seems the phrase “based/inspired by true events” draws people into these films because we want to believe that it is real, because if we believe it is real then we are more likely to put ourselves into that situation and believe that these types of “events” are possible in real life. Keep in mind that the events in this film have never actually been proven or verified. Much like the “true” story about the Amittyville house…the only evidence is the word of one family that resided in the home. As of now…other families have lived in both the Amittyville home and the Snedeker home(the house this film is based on) and have reported no such events taking place in the homes. It is basically up to us, the viewer, to decide whether or not we believe it is possible that these people went through these terrible ordeals. Of course if it really is true…then sign me up for a night in those homes! Hehe.
I personally did not enjoy the first half of the film, and was constantly thinking to myself “great…this film is going to BOMB!”. However, once the second half kicked in, and we are shown more backstory on why the “events” are happening, I began to really enjoy this film. The first half was filled with knock-off scares and other “psychological” mishaps on the poor cancer-stricken Matt. The atmosphere of the house is great, and the cinematography is well done, but I just did not find the first half of the film remotely interesting. This surprised me because everyone I had spoken to said that the first half of the film was awesome, and the second half sucked. I…disagree.
I’m a big fan of investigation into history and paranormal events, and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed the second half of the film. As Matt and Wendy(the beautiful Amanda Crew who most recently starred in Sex Drive) stumble upon information into the history of the home, they realize that this home was not used for just funerals. The mortician/funeral director who ran the home many many years prior had gotten himself and a young boy into some deep stuff involving the living and the dead. I found that highly interesting because I didn’t believe for one second that all this crazyness was being caused by this home simply being a funeral home. There had to be something more to it…and I was right! The other reason behind me really enjoying the second half was the improvement of the scare scenes. I remember getting goosebumps once during a scare in the second half, something none of the first half scares failed to give me. The second half pretty much took place entirely at night, which I found very effective given how creepy the house and atmosphere were during the day time, which means it’s only creepier at night.
My biggest complaint for the film is that this film wasn’t entirely like the second half. I just found the first half to be a bit silly and cliché, and although we needed to see the plot development that took place during the first half, I don’t find that as an excuse for it because we were given continued plot development even in the second half, and the second half was a vast improvement. I also had a problem with the use of the children in the story. Only once did I see one of the two children come in contact with the dark force in the house, which made me question the purpose of the characters. They really were not used to benefit he story at all, and the same applies for the alcoholic father who only provides some conflict during one scene, which I found highly unnecessary and a complete waste of time. Other than these two scenes nothing really involving any of those three characters was used, and that detriments from the film because the two children could have been used in a variety of scenes dealing with the dark force that would have made this film much more interesting…especially during the first half.
Overall, this is a decent supernatural horror film that is sure to scare those who scare easily during the first half, and give a few jolts to the veterans like myself with the scares in the second half. This isn’t a bad film, and is so far one of the better horror films of 2009, it just could have been much better.