Home > Drama, Horror, Thriller > The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Before you move into your new home, there are few warning signs that you should check for. Is it:

  • Built on top of an improperly relocated cemetary?
  • The site of a multiple murder?
  • The site of dark Satanic rituals?
  • Talking to your youngest daughter through TV static?
  • Bleeding from the walls?

If so, the proper answer to your realtor is “thanks, but no”. Of course, these things are not likely to be disclosed to house hunters, making ample fodder for plenty of haunted house movies. Of these, a fair handful are “based on a true story” (the actual veracity of which is likely to be hotly debated). Here’s one of them.

The Haunting in Connecticut is an American psychological horror film produced by Gold Circle Films and directed by Peter Cornwell. Is stars Virginia “Candyman” Madsen, Kyle “A Remake on Elm Street” Gallner, Martin “Agent Cody Banks” Donovan, Amanda “She’s the Man” Crew, and Elias “The Prophecy” Koteas.

Presented as a true story, Connecticut focuses on the Campbells, whose oldest son Matthew (Gallner) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, for which he is receiving treatment in a hospital in Connecticut. Seeing the effects the long commute has on him, his mother Sarah (Madsen) rents a nearby home to reduce the amount of time spent on the road. Matt moves into the room in the basement, which they soon discover is also home to a mortuary (strike 1). The family starts experiencing supernatural events that the family initially blame on stress and hallucinations from Matthew’s treatment (which appeared to be radiation of some sort), particularly when Matt starts having visions of a young boy from the 1920s named Jonah. As the events intensify, Matt contacts a minister he met at the hospital for assistance, and learns that his supernatural experiences are likely the result of the previous occupant’s occult activities (strike 2), including seances (strike 3) and necromantic rituals (strike 4). Jonah is discovered to be the spirit of a child medium who would call up spirits that another would then bind to the house to amplify Jonah’s powers (strike 5). It isn’t until the bound spirits start messing with the rest of the family – proving that it isn’t all in Matt’s head – that they become starkly aware that something has to give – but how do you get rid of a presence that you can’t see or touch?

Having grown up on fare like Ghostbusters and Poltergeist, I was starting to think I’d seen it all as far as haunted-house movies go. However, this movie combines traditional ghost story elements with metaphysical concepts and occurrences accepted as fact by those who believe in the paranormal, such as calling up spirits via seances, and the manifestation of ectoplasm, presenting photos from documented seances. It also adds another elements to explain why only one family member has paranormal visions and occurences: Matt has terminal cancer (it is not specified what sort) and therefore walks in a “border state” between the living and the dead, a condition that apparently attracts the angry dead. The minister he consults for help is likewise implied to be dying, allowing him greater insight into Matt’s problem. Overall the level of research and detail put into the paranormal aspects combined decently well into a spooky, atmospheric story, if a slightly derivative one. My only real complaint is that compared to the in-camera ghostly effects, the flashback where Jonah produces a column of CGI ectoplasm from his mouth seemed disappointingly fake.

Of the main cast, I’d seen two of them before in horror movies: Madsen in Candyman and Gallner in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and they both seem well-suited to the genre. Gallner had his work cut out for him, having to act like a kid undergoing what must have been exhausting and draining treatments for cancer, with his character having days to live by the end. Madsen, trying to wrangle her sick son and two younger healthy children, managed to convey the level of exhaustion and frustration one would expect in her situation, just holding on my her fingernails trying to keep her family together even without the suspicion that her son might be going crazy or hallucinating from the drugs on top of it – and she needs all he strength once things really start to blow up.

If you like your horror movies to have lots of gore, you will want to give this one a miss. However, if you want a well-designed haunting with roots in real-world parapsychology, I suggest renting this one.

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