Film Review: The Haunting in Connecticut (Spoilers)

This film is apparently based on a real life horror story, but disappointingly rarely challenges the viewer. Its horror is signposted, is mostly explained away with needless exposition, and rather than keeping the story grounded in the real world director Peter Cornwell goes all CGI, particularly at times he doesn’t need to. It’s certainly sub-Amityville, never showing anything disturbing or uncomfortable, and opts for easy, often religious answers to issues which in the real world would remain confusing. It is however quite entertaining, and has a number of engaging (if forgettable) performances. It’s  a familiar story – family with cancer striken teenage son (Kyle Gallner) has to move state and house to spare him the gruelling long-distance commute to the specialist hospital. Only thing is the house is possessed, and whatever spirit is there seems to take issue with their presence. But why? What is the backstory of the former funeral home?

Nothing is quite what it seems, the real bad spirits are not the one we think, and cancer-stricken Gallner makes a full recovery after coming to terms with the spirit of the funeral home’s son in the spirit world. It all sounds very saccharine and it isn’t, although the darkness of the film is mystifyingly tempered by a meaningless subplot involving Gallner’s father, the underused Martin Donovan, as well as by the introduction of Elias Koteas as a similarly cancer-stricken priest, who conveniently knows all there is to know about the spirit world. Cornwell pulls out some genuinely frightening moments, and does get your heart to race quite often, but in the end it’s disappointingly forgettable, despite the well-meaning performances. A little less emphasis on the bland ‘power of good vs evil’ and a greater emphasis on the very real, human horror would have made this a far more memorable film. 6/10

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