At some point in our lives, we all reach a split in the road. These are the decisions that shape us, that define our futures. I reached such a split tonight. On the one side of the gaping four-story mall promenade, a line for a free screening of Adventureland. On the other, The Haunting in Connecticut.
In life, we all make poor choices at times.
The Haunting in Connecticut stars Virginia Madsen as the mother of a dying teenager (Kyle Gallner), who is suffering from advanced cancer. Souped up on a variety of medicines, the long trips to the hospital are taking the toll on him. The decision is made to move to a house (guess in which state), which is closer to the hospital and still affordable. The only downside? It used to be a funeral parlor and is still inhabited by lots of angry ghosts. Since the son is closer to death, he becomes a channel for these spirits.
To summarize: watch the original Amityville Horror.
The Haunting in Connecticut is based roughly on a true story, but for what it's worth, it is a complete and utter rip-off of other ghost stories to come before it. There's the creepy house, the disturbed family member, the all-knowing priest, the investigation that reveals the deep, dark mystery and some silly ending to explain everything away. Unfortunately, it's also dumb, poorly acted, horribly directed and not even slightly scary.
Within the first minute, I knew what I was in store for. Madsen, a usually reliable actress, shows little interest in her role, delivering her sloppy lines with an equally sloppy performance. Gallner is OK, but doesn't have the chops to pull off a nice, dying teenager who is also troubled by spirits. Most painful is the direction, though. Peter Cornwell's attempt at horror is a sad one, as the only scary thing about this movie is that he was given the job in the first place. Cornwell relies on many of the things I hate, including cheesy flashbacks, explaining way too much way too early and lots of fake "scares."
The visions that Gallner sees are way too vivid, allowing us to figure everything out - if there's anything to be figured out - within a matter of minutes. There is a story, but Cornwell never treats his flashback characters as anything more than plot devices; they never feel alive, and hence they're never scary. The heavy use of flashbacks is, in fact, disappointing; the amount of look-once-and-there's-a-ghost-look-twice-and-there-isn't moments is equally so. The result is a very surface-level story with cheap gimmicks, crude storytelling and uninteresting characters. Despite Cornwell's blatant attempts to do so, The Haunting in Connecticut lacks an emotional connection with the audience, resulting in more giggles than authentic scares.
The Haunting in Connecticut is a pathetic attempt at horror, and should be avoided at all costs.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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