Horror / Suspense

The Haunting in Connecticut

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I love renting movies with other people.  They often choose movies I would never have rented myself.  Such was the case this past weekend when I entered the video rental store with a friend and she chose The Haunting in Connecticut.

            Based on a true story, The Haunting in Connecticut takes place in 1987 and stars Kyle Gallner as Matt Campbell, a teenager undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer.  Concerned over the length of travel between their home and the hospital in Connecticut, his mother, Sara (Virginia Madsen), searches for a place that the family can rent while Kyle undergoes his treatment.  Her desperation over finding affordable temporary housing in upstate Connecticut forces her to act on a sizable home for rent despite the history attached.

            Soon after moving into the house, Matt begins experiencing strange occurrences which he at first believes are hallucinations sparked by the experimental treatment.  But as the experiences become more intense and begin to affect others in the house, Matt believes that there may be something more to this house than meets the eye.  In fact, his mother has been hiding the truth from the family - the house was once a funeral home, complete with a mortuary in the basement, the one room Matt claims as his own.

            After some rather severe bouts with a ghost named Jonah and the discovery of some strange evidence involving the tampering with the bodies of the dead, Matt decides to consult Nicholas Popescu (Elias Koteas), a reverend in the same experimental cancer treatment trial as Matt.  What they discover about the former occupants of the house is shocking, but none more shocking than the realization that the funeral home was desecrating the bodies of the dead that were entrusted into their care.

            Iím not one to believe in many of the ghost hunter reality series on television, but I do enjoy the Discovery Channel program called A Haunting.  This particular show offers up tales of the paranormal from people who allegedly experienced unexplainable occurrences in their homes or at their places of business.  These tales are partially re-enacted.  The viewer can make their own opinions of the story based on what they have seen or heard rather than on evidence provided by the Roto Rooter man.

            A Haunting actually had an episode about the Parkers, a family with a fourteen-year-old son named Paul who was suffering from cancer.  The episode was called A Haunting in Connecticut and I remembered it rather clearly.  This, too, was supposedly based on a true story.  This story was also the basis for the book, In A Dark Place by Ray Garton, although the names of the family and its members are completely different. Remembering that episode of A Haunting, I found myself comparing what occurred in The Haunting in Connecticut to what I had seen on television.  This served to sour me a bit on the idea of this tale being a true story.

            However, this is not to say that The Haunting in Connecticut does not provide credible entertainment.  Regardless of whether or not this story is true, it does prove to be captivating and thus entertaining.  One becomes vested in the characters and extremely interested in discovering the history of the home they find themselves haunted by.  Of course, not being one to scare easily, I did laugh at a couple of the scary moments, but then again, thatís just me.  I laughed throughout the whole showing of The Grudge and folks tell me that was a pretty scary film.

            The acting is excellent and I loved seeing Virginia Madsen and Elias Koteas again, who incidentally both appeared in another horror film called The Prophecy.  Both are excellent actors with great expression and vast experience.  For someone who spent most of his career appearing in single episodes of television series, Kyle Gallner was actually rather believable in his role as a teenager tortured by the failings of his own body as well as the demons residing in his new home.  The one exception in the acting department was Martin Donovan, who was rather flat as Peter Campbell, the alcoholic father wallowing in self-pity while his son is dying and his family is tortured by demons.

            In closing, I would recommend renting The Haunting in Connecticut for its entertainment value rather than its accuracy.  This is an entertaining haunting movie in the style of The Amityville Horror and House on Haunted Hill.  Unraveling the mystery of the house is great fun and fans of spooky films will be more than satisfied with the storyline.


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