The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
Director: Peter Cornwell
Elias Koteas/Reverend Popescu
A family with a cancer ridden son in tow moves into a house near a hospital in Connecticut and quickly discover that it’s haunted up the ying-yang!
Based on the “true story” (True story my ass!) of The Snedeker family who in the 80’s claimed that their new crib was Polterinfested; THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT was a frustrating could’ve been. Could’ve been if the powers that be behind this puppy had given a sprinkle of a shit about what’s important for a feature of this type that is.
This sucka started all wrong and kept up with its sad-sack approach for the bulk of its running time. If you’re gonna make a character driven story about a family that moves in a haunted house, well how about you take the time to DEFINE who these characters are and to set up your situation FULLY for maximum impact. The greats knew and did just that. POLTERGEIST comes to mind, THE EXORCIST, THE HAUNTING… shite even the original THE AMYTIVILLE HORROR nailed that key aspect. This McDonalds version of the aforementioned films couldn’t be bothered with that stuff. If you BLINK, you’ll miss them moving in the house and characters? Apart from the mom and her ill offspring, everybody else was a paper cut out filling up dead space. Shit, I still don’t know why the dad was in there! Totally USELESS.
The outcome for this twat was that no matter how many FEAR PLOYS this one bombarded me with afterwards, be it via blurry shots, SAW-ish tight edition or mucho white flashes; I couldn’t be bothered to care. I was actually often bored throughout. Straight up this one hour and half felt like a 4 hour Russian epic about sandals. BORING, BORING! BORING! Ya see, without a good base to build upon, what do you got? Not much. And that slap-dash manner was sadly applied to the UNRAVELING of the STORY and the WHY behind the lunacy too. So many half cocked ideas, rushed plot elements and even one dangling plot line at the end of the film. Dumb actions to serve the so called narrative were pissing on this one. Ya know the drill: like why do they “stay” in the house after knowing it’s so damn haunted? Or why is that dumbass taking a shower out of the freaking-fucky-blue in a house she knows is spirit bugged? Urg… kill me now man…
On a somewhat positive stab; the cast here was obviously there to go to town. Virgina Madsen was so on and she managed to give humanity to this otherwise soul-less effort. While Kyle Gallner as Matt blew me away with his focused, credible and endearing performance. Too bad the film didn’t capitalize on the fine actors it had in its back-pocket. Moreover playing “spot the rip-off” was somewhat fun for me. It kept me awake. Look a scene from THE EXORCIST! Look a scene from AMYTIVILLE HORROR. Look my toe nails are growing into claw like shapes! Bah. The only other positives I can think of was that the score often brought out hints of the emotion that the film couldn’t pull off and that the chilling atmosphere and a couple of frights did come through. But that jive didn’t come close in saving this “scare bits” montage posing as a feature.
THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT was a mammoth disappointment for yours truly. I had dug the trailers, the casting and I’m always up for a good ghost story. That’s one of the reasons why we promoted the hell out of it on the site. I was stoked for it! And what did I get in return for my enthusiasm? A vacuous, all over the place, wannabe and worst of all ANTI SCARY ghost reel. Arrow pulls down his pants: HAUNT THIS!
Other than tacky CGI coming out of somebody’s mouth, some pasty cadavers, suggestion of nasty shite (eye lids cut off) and writing carved in peeps skin – NO!
We all know that Virginia Madsen (Sara) has chops to spare. Alas, she was barely given a shot to use them. Kyle Gallner (Matt) had the meatier role here and he was up to the task. Dude delivered and reminded me of a younger, pre Gin bottle Dewan Sawa. The Canadian DeNiro Elias Koteas (Reverend Popescu) did what he could with was he was given. But he’s a better actor than drivel like this. Fire your Agent Koeteas! Enough! Amanda Crew (Wendy) looked pretty but her role was so slim that I can’t tell ya if she was good or not in it. How many days of shooting did capable actor Martin Donovan (Peter) have on this production? Three? He was all right but again, not much of a role.
T & A
I was day dreaming of two of my ex-girlfriends doing each other in a big pool of Vodka while watching this, does that count?
Peter Cornwell showed-off a good eye, managed to evoke dread via his uber stylish visuals and has seen enough genre classics to know how to echo them. Next time he’ll hopefully have either a BETTER script or a less SNIP HAPPY editor on his side.
Adam Swica’s score was more often than none the heart and the tension of the film. Thank Zeus for that; otherwise this one would have been completely flat.
The only thing THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT spooked was my time in the sense that it WASTED IT. Rushed set up, cardboard characters, quick cut editing filling in for an organic narrative progression, semi thought out ideas, plot bouncing off walls yet going nowhere... basically everything I DON’T look for in a character/relationship driven ghost movie! Yeah, the actors were bang on and the images were macabre pretty, but I thought I was going in there to watch a MOVIE not an extended music video. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was like an hour of footage from this one rotting on a cutting room floor somewhere. Back to POLTERGESIT I go to get the REAL shit!
The account first popped up in Ray Garton’s novel "In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting" and then it was explored in a Discovery Channel documentary also called “A Haunting in Connecticut".
Ray Garton the author of "In A Dark Place" said at the time: "Elements of Carmen Snedeker's story clashed with elements of Al Snedeker's story, and it seemed everyone was having a problem keeping their stories straight. Frankly, I didn't notice until I had nearly finished all my interviews and began going over my notes, then I started having trouble matching up the details." And when Garton approached the case investigators about that, they told him: "Make it up and make it scary."
Kyle Gallner is known for having played Cassidy Casablancas in Veronica Mars, and Bart Allen in Smallville.
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