'The Haunting in Connecticut (Unrated Edition)'
(Kyle Gallner, Amanda Crew, Virginia Madsen, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2009 / LGF)
Overview: Based on a chilling true story, Lionsgate's The Haunting in Connecticut charts one family's terrifying, real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner's clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to cross over.
DVD Verdict: A decent horror plot combined with scares that try to get under your skin and stay there manage to make the Haunting in Connecticut one of the few buy-worthy horrors I've reviewed. Matt Campbell, a cancer patient, is struggling to cope with the constant rides to and from the hospital where he is receiving an experimental treatment. After seeing him suffer following a prolonged treatment, his mother buys a former funeral home for them to stay in during his hospital visits. What follows is a progressively aggressive assault from spirits within the home.
The storyline is another of those "based on a true story" pieces of nonsense, which really needs to stop unless they're honestly worried about being sued. While the plot overall is nothing new, it manages to throw in enough good renditions of overdone plot points to give it a feel of being new. A few points of humor, a few character sidebars that are just a hair short of being filler, and a few extremely well done hallucination scenes manage to round out the movie as a whole, rather than leave it as a grinding startle sequence. The explanation is especially well done, just believable enough to easily swallow, yet allowing for mistakes, interpretation, and managing to provide a good basis for "I see it! Why don't you see it!?!!"
The effects are surprisingly good, despite or in spite of their simplicity. The scares are also subtle, small things that build in the background. While theres the requisite number of startles, these're thankfully overshadowed by the creepy elements that know what they're doing. A few of the moments even managed to make me, a jaded and embittered veteran of gore, wince and cringe in my seat; though there's little, if any, actual blood.
The acting is also above average, While the whiny brats throw things off at a few moments, the main characters are truly well done. The lead manages to play a rarely used archetype; rather than being the one running around screaming and crying about why nobody believes poor widdle him, his reaction to the events is more "It's my problem, I'll handle it."
Though the ending is gaggingly honey sweet and sappy, the story is good, the scares quiet, cold things that'll slide into your veins, and the acting worthwhile. A truly rare buy recommendation. The only thing that prevented it from being five stars is its something you've seen over and over before. It make be a very good rehash, but thats a far cry from a masterpiece. [BL] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
"Two Dead Boys: the making of The Haunting In Connecticut"
"The Fear is Real: reinvestigating the haunting" parts 1 and 2
"Anatomy of A Haunting"
"Momento Mori: the history of postmortem photography
Audio Commentaries with director, producer, cast and crew
Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Peter Cornwell