Matt is a teenager suffering from cancer.
The Haunting in Connecticut is a new horror film that is supposed to be based on a true story. At the beginning of the film, we see Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) in a quasi-documentary scene telling the audience that what they are about to see all happened back in the 1980s. She dares the audience to believe, but later says that she doesn’t care whether we do or not. The story is about the Campbell family and their eldest son Matt (Kyle Gallner) who has been diagnosed with cancer. Matt must be constantly driven to a special clinic for his radiation treatments, and the clinic is a long way from their home. It is taking a real toll on the family, so Matt’s mom Sara checks around Connecticut to see if there are any places that they could rent. Much to her surprise, she finds a very large house in the town of Southington that is bargain priced. On a whim she signs the lease and has the family move in. Her husband Peter (Martin Donovan) can only be there on weekends due to his contracting business, but the rest of the family, Matt’s younger sister and brother Mary (Sophi Knight) and Billy (Ty Wood) move in. Additionally, Matt’s cousin Wendy (Amanda Crew) comes to live stay with them.
Matt watches his younger brother Billy and sister Mary playing with their father.
Soon very strange things start to happen at the house. Matt begins to see strange apparitions of a young boy who appears sometimes as a normal kid but from a past generation and other times as a burnt face. Soon he is haunted by other images of people all dressed in black and holding strange seances. Later they discover that the house used to be a mortuary, and that Matt’s bedroom used to be the embalming room where dead bodies were prepared. At first the apparitions were only seen by Matt. The explanation for this is that due to his illness Matt has a heightened awareness of death and the spirit world. Later his siblings and cousin begin to experience some of the elements of the haunted house, slammed doors, creaking floors, flapping bird wings. Matt and Wendy even go to the public library and research the history of the house. You would think that with all of these troubling things happening, that the family would make a fast break for the exits and return to their faraway but safe house where they used to live, but this is Hollywood and a horror movie, so logic does not apply. In all fairness to Sara Campbell and her children, she is having issues with her husband Peter, who has a drinking problem, and a temper. The happenings at the house continue to get worse, to the point where the doctors worry that it is affecting Matt’s treatment. At the hospital Matt meets another patient, the Reverend Popescu (Elias Koteas), a clergyman who has some experience with the supernatural. He comes to the house and explains that what they are experiencing is more than a haunting. The house is actually possessed by supernatural spirits, Necromancy and other horrible crimes were committed there. To reveal much more of the story would spoil your experience and the impact of the various shocks and jolts that the story contains. The balance of the film is about how Matt and the others work to exorcise the evil spirits and break free of their control.
Matt talks with the Reverend Popescu about the apparitions he keeps seeing and experiencing.
The Haunting in Connecticut has a lot going for it. It is stylishly produced and directed by Peter Cornwell and the screenplay by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe has the requisite scary moments, special effects, and twists and turns to keep you engaged. The films follows in the footsteps of other classic horror films, and to Cornwell’s credit, the film follows more in the footsteps of an Alfred Hitchcock film rather than those of the typical horror/slasher movie, relying more on suspense rather than an overabundance of gore and grisly murders. It does have some gruesome moments and dark themes which makes its PG-13 rating a little surprising. The acting is first rate, with fine performances by Virginia Madsen, Elias Koteas, and Kyle Gallner as the pale, cancer-ridden teen fighting not only his disease but all of the disturbing events at his house. The main problem with the film has to do with its claims of being based on a true story. There are too many stretches of the imagination required to believe that this is all based on reality. Things like ectoplasm, interaction with the ghosts, and the house acting as an evil entity are quite a stretch. There is no ground-breaking originality here. This whole supernatural genre is very popular these days — look at all of the television shows that have mediums, ghost whisperers, and mentalists — and this movie could very well be an extended episode of one of these shows. Instead of claiming to be a true story, the film could have been more effective if there was more doubt that what was happening to Matt was real. Maybe it all was in his head due to his illness! But for a nice scary story with an exciting and ultimately satisfying ending, A Haunting in Connecticut is worth a look.
Matt and Wendy go to help Mary when her foot falls through a floor board in the attic.
Sara finds Matt lying on the floor in the burning house.
Kyle Gallner in his role as Matt wears black high top chucks throughout the film. They seem to be one of his main possessions. Matt is never shown with books, games or any other things, but his chucks are always carefully placed by his bed when he is resting or just wearing white socks. The best chucks scene is near the end of the movie.
Sara drags Matt from the middle of the burning house.
It would spoil the ending of the film to give a more complete description of what actually happens. Suffice it to say that Matt finally realizes what he must do to end the apparitions and hauntings that he and his family have been experiencing.
Sara cradles Matt in her arms waiting for the firemen.
Even though the doctors who are treating him say that his condition has worsened and gone terminal, Matt knows that he must go ahead and sacrifice himself if necessary to save his family. The whole final sequence is a very powerful scene.
Firemen attempt to revive Matt who has passed out from smoke inhalation.
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