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STUDIO: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
- Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut
- The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting, Parts 1 & 2
- Anatomy of a Haunting
- Memento Mori: the History of Postmortem Photography
- Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Peter Cornwell
- Commentary by Peter Cornwell, producer Andrew Trapani, co-writer Adam Simon and Editor Tom Elkins
- Commentary by Peter Cornwell, Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner
Based on the true life movies from which it borrows heavily.
Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Erik Berg, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophie Knight, Ty Wood.
Matt Campbell (Gallner) is a teenager who’s dying of cancer. His desperate mother, Sara (Madsen), ferries him to and from the clinic in Connecticut where he’s receiving an experimental treatment. However, when the eight-hour commute is becoming too much for both of them, she rents a house nearby, despite the financial struggles her family, which includes her husband, Peter (Donovan), two kids and and niece, Wendy (Crew) are undergoing. They soon discover that not only was the house a mortuary. but there were some freaky things going on within it involving seances and ritualistic desecration of corpses and now someone who’s probably not alive is really pissed off about it.
Nothing says ‘family values” quite like posing with your dead rugrats.
The Haunting in Connecticut is a middle-of-the road attempt at horror that might have been pretty good if not for one thing: virtually every shtick used is obviously taken from some other better-known horror film. In some cases, blatantly so. It’s essentially The Amityville Horror meets The Exorcist by way of both The Haunting and the The House on Haunted Hill (the shitty 1999 remakes). It brings virtually nothing new to the table, except perhaps for the explosive, fiery type of ectoplasm, which I don’t believe they covered in Ghostbusters.
Leave us break down these comparisons. Haunted house with some definite evil shit going down inside it in rural part of New England (Amityville): check. Priest who comes in to try to save the day (Exorcist): check. Ghost(s) who are actually trying to help the inhabitants from other, more pissed off ghost(s) (Haunting): check. Ghost pissed off because of horrible experiments done upon their persons (House on Haunted Hill): check. From there, it’s up to the film to supply the domestic struggles present in many such movies to round things out.
“…so then he emerges from the fire all hot and young again and he engaged the other flying creep in some long-drawn out battle, cut his head off and then threw me up against the wall and sucked my tonsils out the hard way.. Ooh, what a kisser! You listening back there, honey?”
“Later on, we did the damnedest thing with his old car and about a thousand bullets…”
There are your expected number of jump scares, close encounters and expected ghostly doings occurring here, and you have to slog through these in order to get to the meat in the third act. I’m reminded of the Eddie Murphy comedy bit where he said that a White family in a haunted house doesn’t catch on that maybe they should vacate the premises anywhere nearly as quickly as a Black family would. And that’s going on here as well. Even when Sara sees a fudged-up ghost appear right in front of her, it’s: “whoa, that was peculiar.” Enter the depressed, drunken husband soon thereafter, and her focus shifts back to her domestic struggles rather than “Goddamn, I just saw a freakin’ ghost.”
“Casey, you still fighting evildoers with sports equipment?”
“Yeah, but I’ve slowed down quite a bit, so I’ve incorporated biathlon rifles…”
Matt and Father Popescu (Koteas), who, since they are close to death (padre’s also dying of cancer), are the only ones who can see the ghosts (even though that proves to be totally 86’ed later on in the story), slowly uncover the backstory of why the house is haunted, along with Cousin Wendy. And it’s suitably nasty stuff. But in order to get to the truth, it’s the same old story of ghosts making sporadic appearances and communicating by vision and ecto-pissings than Jonah just appearing to Matt and saying, “Okay, here’s the deal: you’re screwed if you stay here.” But such is the nature of films as this.
Performances by Gallner and Madsen, who is slumming bigtime, are fine, although Gallner is forced to utter the unbelievable line of “What is ectoplasm?” Director Peter Cornwell, who is essentially getting his introduction into the major leagues here, acquits himself okay, but as previously mentioned, you can see most of the story beats coming and there isn’t much you haven’t seen before. Although I do admit to liking the allegory in the film of the two dead boys. Would have been interesting if they could have worked in the paralyzed donkey part. Regardless, Cornwell has the ghost story playbook and he pretty much sticks to it. This is the unrated cut, but as I didn’t see this in theatres, I couldn’t tell you what’s been added. Perhaps another ghost or another jump scare. This would be a decent rental on a lonely night at best.
Picture and sound are both fine in 2:35:1 and Dolby 5.1 with English and Spanish subtitles. There’s a good amount of special features for those that feel the need to really delve deep into this story which is half hearsay and half made up-shit. Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut runs fifteen minutes and is a typical behind-the-scenes, and The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting, is a two-part look at the origins of the story that features interviews with the Snedeker family, on whom the story is based, and runs about 40 minutes in total. Anatomy of a Haunting is a 12-minute piece dealing with the theories of how a haunting would take place and what would be the workings behind one in terms of what is death and other such unknowable concepts. Barry Taff, PhD in parapsychology and psychic Jack Rourke provide the musings here.
Typical LA nightclub….
Memento Mori: The History of Postmortem Photography is a ten minute piece where doctor and author Stanley Burns, an expert on postmortem photography and its history, riffs on its origins, uses in the 19th Century and phasing out in modern times. It features a lot of photos of dead people posed like they’re in family portraits, including two parents holding their dead kids. There are eight minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Peter Cornwell, and two commentaries by Cornwell, producer Andrew Trapani, co-writer Adam Simon and Editor Tom Elkins; and one by Cornwell, Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner to round out the offerings.