The Haunting In Connecticut
TV director Peter Cornwell's latest effort to revisit the 'Based On A True Story (Honest)' craze that was begun by Stuart Rosenberg's really rather average The Amityville Horror way back in 1979, with screenwriters Adam Simon (Brain Dead (1990)) and Tim Metcalfe (Kalifornia (1993)) along for the ride, suffers very much from all the same faults as its predecessor, coupled with the ever-increasing tendency (see my recent review of Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell (2009) of mainstream US horror to dumb it down, big time.
This time around, the 'honest-to-God they're true' events on which the film is based are alleged to have centred around one 'Snedeker' family, from Meriden Avenue in Southington, Connecticut. Though suffering from similar credibility-sapping stories concerning their veracity as beset Jay Anson's original 'novel' of The Amityville Horror, writers Simon and Metcalfe, unfortunately, still couldn't let it lie, and have whipped up 'origins' for the hauntings' raison d'etre, while Cornwell can do little better than employ truly cliched horror routines, coupled with an intrusive, abrasive soundtrack that reduces the subtlety of a large part of the 'scares' to the equivalent of clanging chains and white sheets with holes cut for eyes. Woooh...
Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner in the movie "The Haunting in Connecticut"
The film's opening title sequence, with its genuinely creepy sepia-toned shots of the dead, a common early photography practice that is now viewed as morbid (such as boy with his deceased brother leaning on his shoulder, parents each holding a dead child in their laps), promises much more than is actually delivered, when we're thrust into 1987, where Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner) is suffering with the effects of his cancer treatment, while on a drive with his mother, Sara (Virginia Madsen).
Because of Matt's condition, long hospital commutes are necessary, but Sara spots a charming-looking rambling colonial house for rent that's much nearer, and is immediately sold on the place. But the house, apparently, 'has a history', as a friendly local informs her – cue atmospheric music...
The hackneyed factor is ratcheted up quickly from here onwards – of course, the family moves in anyway and, of course, Matt chooses a basement room as his bedroom, one that has, of course, an additional interior room (locked, naturally) with fogged windows. Visions begin, such as blood on the floor where is mother is mopping and rather 'poorly' looking invisible friends...
Seriously, enough already – Amityville isn't the only horror franchise to have been willfully plundered by this mess – there's more than a little of The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980) and even Poltergeist (1982) thrown in for good measure, none of which helps negate the feeling that this is a scary-house show without a single original idea in its attic.
Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner in the movie The Haunting in Connecticut
There are a couple of jumps, a few jitters, but very little else besides. Madsen does her level best as devoted mum (she is the film's best feature, in fact) but, other than that, this has all the hallmarks of a straight-to-DVD classic and, if it had had anything better from the US to compete with thus far during 2009, that's certainly where it would have ended up.
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'Expatica's weekly cinema-review section is brought to you in collaboration with Picturenose.com'
About our reviewers : Putting you in the picture
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