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With: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight, Ty Wood, Erik J. Berg, John Bluethner, D.W. Brown, John B. Lowe, Adriana O'Neil, Will Woytowich, James Durham, Darren Ross
Written by: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe
Directed by: Peter Cornwell
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of terror and disturbing images
Running Time: 92
Date: 03/27/2009

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Ghost Bust

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it's technically based on a true story, The Haunting in Connecticut looks more like it was based on earlier horror movies. During the opening credits, rookie director Peter Cornwell makes the mistake of showing a series of photographs that will come into play later. He starts the scares early and often, rather than building characters or story, and always punctuates them with a percussive blast of the music score, just in case we didn't happen to notice. The story takes place in 1987 when Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) is forced to drive at all hours to take her son Matt (Kyle Gallner) for cancer treatments in Connecticut. At the end of their tether, she rents the first house that's available so that Matt won't have to endure the long drives anymore. Unfortunately, the house is seriously haunted; it was formerly a funeral home where powerful séances also took place. It's up to the characters, aided by the soft-spoken Reverend Popescu (an appealing Elias Koteas), to discover the house's secret, dark history in order to stop the spookiness. That's a pretty standard plot for haunted house films, ranging from Poltergeist (1982) to Mirrors (2008), up to and including the false ending, where it seems like everything is fine, but has just grown worse. (Unfortunately, The Haunting in Connecticut ruins the timing of this moment by charging ahead too fast.) The film gets a few bonus points for the "true story" angle, but Cornwell doesn't present it in any unique way. The film starts and ends with Sara doing an on-camera interview, but this gimmick is totally dropped during the film. Just imagine a quieter, more docudrama-like approach with less of that blaring music and less of the obvious special effects. The first scare in the movie is a GG-induced, red demon face that suddenly opens its jaw; it's the ultimate in cheapness. But a simpler trick with some dinner plates is infinitely more interesting. Martin Donovan co-stars as the drunken dad, and Amanda Crew plays the cute 'n' helpful cousin.

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