29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The film that is based on the true story of the haunting of a funeral home converted to a residence suffers from a lack of imagination and emphasis on visual effects, but then I could say that about most modern films. I found the Discovery Channel documentary on the haunting,A Haunting in Connecticut, to be much more interesting, and cheaper.
However, you can't beat this double disc editon for extra features, and interesting ones too. There is the featurette "Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut" which talks with the cast and crew about the making of the film and the haunted hotel that they stayed in during filming. It runs about fifteen minutes.
"The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting (41:03), gets away from the movie-making end of things and goes to the actual case that inspired all of this. Carmen Snedeker-Reed and two of her sons discuss the haunting. Also included are Carmen's neices, former neighbors, and some of the clairvoyants called in on the case at the time of the haunting. This mini-documentary is quite interesting if you enjoyed the original Discovery Channel documentary as I did and want more background both from news sources at the time and new developments and insights.
Anatomy of a Haunting (11:48) talks with parapsychologist Barry Taff and psychic Jack Rourke about the supernatural. They discuss the case that inspired the film The Entity, among other matters.
"Memento Mori: The History of Postmortem Photography" (10:26) has author Stanley B. Burns talking about this odd practice. If you have seen the film "The Others" this will be particularly interesting.
There are eight minutes worth of deleted scenes, with optional audio commentary by the director.
Finally, there are two audio commentaries for the film itself. One is provided by director Cornwell, producer Andrew Trapani, writer Adam Simon, and editor Tom Elkins. It mainly involves the technical aspects of the film, and it is well done and not at all dry.
The second commentary is provided by director Cornwell and actress Virginia Madsen (she plays the part of the mother in the film). This one gets more into human interest stories and the background of making the film. It veers a bit off-course but is entertaining enough.
The second disc is reserved for a digital copy of the film.
I'd recommend this two disc edition and not the single disc edition that apparently has no extras at all. My recommendation is for people interested in the case itself and familiar with its background. If you are looking for some kind of ground-breaking horror film, look elsewhere.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2009
While the movie itself remains above average with a few stand out scenes and a few minor changes from the documentary film that was made about this story the real worthy of the purchase price of the dvd are the special features.
The special Features are scarier than the movie itself.
I admit when I saw the trailer for this movie the first time months before it hit theaters i was blown away and couldn't wait for it to come out I remember thinking oh man this looks so scary.
I didn't get to see it until it hit Dvd and was a little dissapointed and felt even the unrated version seems to be missing something that would have turned into a 5 star flick instead of a 4 star flick.
Still entertaining,and the special features are even more entertaining than the movie so 4 stars for that reason.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I was eager to check this movie out because I really liked the docudrama "A Haunting in Connecticut" which was part of a series titled "Haunting" by the Discovery Channel. This movie was supposedly inspired by those true events. In the docudrama, Karen and Ed Parker and their family move into an old home in Connecticut, not realising the house harbors entities that are far from benign.The most affected is the couple's 14-year-old son, Paul, who seems to be most susceptible to the hauntings. In desperation, the family contacts Edward and Lorraine Warren, the same people who investigated another famous haunted house that became known as "The Amityville Horror".
In the movie version, the story remains true to the original to some extent. Virginia Madsen plays Sara Campbell, whose teenage son Matt [Kyle Gallner] is suffering from some form of brain cancer. The treatment requires them to make a long commute and to cut on the travel time, Sara decides to lease a house close by to the hospital. She finds an old house for cheap [the family already has money problems] and finds out it used to serve a darker purpose than a residence. The family moves in anyway, and straight away Matt begins seeing things and hearing noises. He moves into the basement which has a sealed off room. Upon finally opening it, Matt discovers what the house used to be - a mortuary and funeral home. Soon, the rest of the family begins to see and hear strange things and Matt together with Wendy [Amanda Crew] investigate the history of the house, discovering some truly horrific facts about the house's dark past, having to do with death, necrophilia,missing bodies and a horrific tragedy.
The movie is actually well-paced - I did not find the pace plodding nor boring. There is no gore or over-the-top special effects here. In many ways, this movie reminded me of The Amityville Horror II with the son of the house being the focus of the hauntings. Some scenes were scary, especially the flashbacks to the past involving incidents of necrophilia. The acting was ok, not great, but Kyle Gallner was quite credible in his role.
What disappointed me was the omission of two central characters in the movie - they did not include the Warrens in the movie, who played a significant role in the actual case. Instead, the movie shows a priest, Reverend Popescu [Elias Koteas] as the person the family turns to for help. His acting was not very impressive in this movie. Once again, I felt the priest role here was reminiscent of the one portrayed in The Amityville Horror.
Conclusion - for those who love the horror genre, this movie does not really bring anything new to the table. The acting and effects are decent enough, and I did find myself entertained. Recommended as a rental.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2010
When Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner) gets accepted to an experimental treatment for his terminal cancer, rather than make the commute hours to and from the hospital, his mother Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) decides the family is going to rent a house nearer to the hospital. After moving in they realize that the house used to be an old funeral parlor, rather than leave though they decide to stay for Matt's sake. As time goes on Matt begins to see things, things that appear to be hallucinations, but eventually become more. As things spiral further and further out of control the final finds themselves horrified by the events that happen in their lives and that took place in the house long ago.
The Haunting in Connecticut, in the fashion of The Amityville Horror, is based on a true story. Translated from the documentary that appeared on the Discovery Channel of nearly the same name, A Haunting in Connecticut, the movie naturally takes liberties with the original story in an effort to make it more appealing to a mass audience and "scarier". Today, though, horror movies more often than not are contrived and derivative of movies that came before and were far better. Does The Haunting in Connecticut rise above the rest or does it fall into the same trap as the rest of those subpar horror movies of the last decade?
It more than ably falls into the trap of past horror films. By borrowing from so many other horror films that are so much better than this film it only serves as a reminder of just how bad this film is. There's the guy with a tough time going through horrible mood swings (The Amityville Horror and The Shining), said guy in what appears to be an attempt to attack those who are close to him puts an ax through a door (The Shining), they even use the line "As I was going up the stair / I met a man who wasn't there. / He wasn't there again today / I wish, I wish he'd go away" (Identity) and tries to come up with one of it's own with the "One bright night in the middle of the day.." poem. Throughout the entire movie I couldn't help but wish I was watching one of those other movies rather than this one.
All of this is only compounded by what is a sloppy script and sloppy directing and editing. There are moments when they try to use moments for the true story, but are never expounded on and quickly move on to the next scene before we even have an opportunity to process them. But when you do finally get the opportunity to process them you realize that they don't do anything to further the story along or even help us to get to know the characters. At times the director moves on to cliche moves to try to make the audience jump that just don't work anymore, and thinks he's being stylistic by quickly moving between flashback takes and quick cuts, but instead it becomes nauseating proof that the director has no style of his own but must copy other directors and to a lesser outcome. And that's saying nothing of the make up work and effects. The ectoplasm effect is possibly the best effect in the movie, but rather than working with the rest of the set, the camera focuses too much on it making it look even more fake than it already is.
As for the acting, most of the actors look that they're either bored or just walking through the paces. Most disappointing of these is Virginia Madsen. Nominated for an Oscar for her work in Sideways, just the fact that she appears in this movie is low enough as it is, but the lack of enthusiasm shows just how much this movie was about the paycheck. Even Kyle Gallner who is practically starring in his first major role in a motion picture can't seem to be woken up from his stupor to even tell if he's a good actor or not. If there is a best actor in the group, it would be Elias Koteas (The Prophecy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fallen, etc.) is the only one who seems to take his character to heart and seems to really care about the movie. If there's a reason to see the movie, he would be it.
In the end, I can't, in good conscience, really recommend this movie to anyone. If you're a big horror movie fan that'll take the bad with the good, well, you'll watch it anyway. If you're someone that just likes watching movies and were thinking about giving this a chance because you're jonesing for a good horror, forget this and go pick up Drag Me To Hell (best horror movie of the decade!). Take my word for it.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2011
This movie is based on a true story, and I've seen the original story on "A Haunting." I was hoping that the movie version would give me a creepier version of the original story, but all I got was bad acting, a lackluster storyline, and terrible effects. It seemed as though the director had an excellent idea in his head, but couldn't quite project it correctly. They tried way too hard to make the story "better." As a result, the story came off as cheesy and over the top. If you want to get a better and more accurate version of the story, check out the "A Haunting" version.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2009
Never once have I watched a movie that was so poorly entwined with the true stories of the family that it happened to. You could tell the director and producers of this movie only made it for the money and not for the intention of spreading the TRUE story of the haunting in Connecticut!
Needless to say I spent the entire length of the movie yelling at the screen because I knew the real story. I yelled worse towards the end because the house NEVER caught on fire in the true story as well!
If you're into the horror movies that have their own tales then this is your movie, but if you want the real story brought to the screen this is NOT the movie you're looking for.
NONE of this movie was based on the true events other than the young boy being sick, and then they don't go into detail on how he was sick! The young boy really has cancer (which later after moving away from the house he recovered, went into remission, and later became cancer free). There is no story as to the boy living in the basement of the house with the dark figure man (who everyone called the devil) who was telling the boy to kill his family.
Long story short, watch the "A Haunting" on TV to try to catch the REAL story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2011
I think "The Haunting in Connecticut" is probably one of the creepiest PG-13 horror movies I've seen from the 2000s decade. The beginning sets a good mood for the rest of the film, and it doesn't take too long to get creepy. It has actually has really great scares and pop-outs that make you jump out your seat, and the story and setting altogether is really good. It also has a nice and intense ending that's memorable. Some people might not like this movie, but it's definitely and obviously better than a lot of the other PG-13 horror films this past decade. It's actually a good and intense film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT
*** ½ Out of 5
Release Date- March 27th, 2009
Running Time- 102-Minutes
Screenplay- Adam Simon & Tim Metcalfe
Director- Peter Cornwell
Starring- Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Martin Donovan, Amanda Crew, Erik Berg, John Bluethner and Elias Koteas as Reverend Popescu
The based off a true story gimmick is something that Hollywood loves to do and it normally works. The words based on a true story more often than not bring people in to the cinemas even if it bares any real resemblance to the story it's based off. When you go into The Haunting in Connecticut keep that in mind and if you know the story ignore that and take the movie for what it's worth.
The American ghost story really hasn't been that strong since probably the 80s and while over the years there has been some good ones there just often seems to be something lacking and by the time 2000 rolled around they were all, but dead except for Asia where they totally reinvented the ghost genre and made it fresh again. But like the slasher films of the 80s the Asian ghost story was ran into the ground where it was nothing more than the same movie with different actors. The Haunting in Connecticut is one of the better American ghost stories to come out in quite some time, which isn't saying much since the movie is really nothing special.
The biggest problem I had with The Haunting in Connecticut is that the movie is always on the verge of being an excellent horror flick, but just as it's about to get there it just falls a step short. In no way though is this a bad movie; it is enjoyable and works well and I didn't dislike the movie, but I just felt there was potential to be a lot more than it was, but by the final act is does run out of steam and does have some moments that are a bit over the top.
The screenplay by Adam Simon & Tim Metcalfe is well written for the most part, but the biggest problem are the characters really lack any depth, which in a splatter flick is fine, but in a movie that relies more on the characters rather than the on screen violence that does create a bit of a problem. The characters are just there sort of there and they never add much to the story, which again is the biggest flaw since The Haunting in Connecticut relies on the characters. Sarah Campbell played by Virginia Madsen and Matt Campbell played by Kyle Gallner are the main characters and while both are likeable they lack the depth to carry the picture; of all the characters they are the most developed, which once again isn't saying much since there isn't a whole lot done with them.
There is some decent attempts with given the story some life with Peter Campbell played by Martin Donovan having a history of being an alcoholic, but nothing is really ever done with that and all it really was is a passing mention and when he falls off the wagon I doubt anyone will really care since such little is done with the character. Donovan is a solid actor at best when playing someone a little shady and here he was given a different character to play than he normally does too bad he was failed with the script.
The rest of the characters are just simply there and really add nothing to the story, they could have easily been written out of the movie since they don't add anything to the plot. Even with those major flaws Simon and Metcalfe do deliver a decent script, but like I said the characters lack depth and in the end that is what leads to the downfall. Elias Koteas plays Reverend Popescu and he's meant to have an impact on the movie, but he could be easily removed and not have much of an effect on the story.
Director Peter Cornwell does a fairly good job in the sense the pacing is pretty good, while it isn't exactly fast paced the movie never really drags with the exception of a few scenes, which feel like nothing more than fillers. From a story standpoint, Peter Cornwell does a good job like I said the pacing is pretty good and the story pretty always moves forward or at least as much as the script allows it, but the scares are too by the books and feel like every other movie that came before with nothing new added at all. The Haunting in Connecticut also lacks the eerie feel needed to really work well. Despite the flaws the original Amityville Horror has that eerie feel in the house and that's where this movie really falls flat. We never get that sense of dread or any legit eerie feel of something evil being in the house.
The suspense level ranges from decent to below average; towards the final act there is a pretty good run of some decent suspense, but soon falls a part as the movie gets a little too over the top. Overall there are a couple of jump scenes, but not enough and there isn't enough suspense to make this anything, but a good if not slightly lack luster horror flick. Peter Cornwell does manage to build some decent suspense here and there, but he's never able to maintain that through out the running time. Like I said earlier The Haunting in Connecticut had the potential to be a little more than it was, but it just never is able to reach that level.
The performances were mostly solid with Madsen and Gallner being the strongest of the cast the rest of the actors are good, but since they aren't developed and never really given much of a point to the story I suppose there is only so much they can do.
Overall The Haunting in Connecticut has it's moments, but it never reaches the potential it had; overall while the movie is sort of forgettable it does serve it's purpose; don't expect anything you haven't seen before and just take for what it is. There is some decent suspense and maybe a decent scare or two, but it was held back by a script that has some good ideas, but never fully executed and too by the books directing; despite the flaws The Haunting in Connecticut is still an enjoyable movie, but could have been so much more.
The Blu-ray release was excellent; these days' companies are getting cheaper and cheaper with the extras, but this disc does deliver. There are some behind the scenes footage plus a 41-minute documentary featuring interviews with the people whose story inspired the movie. As for the transfer it was strong, but not the best I've seen and the audio is solid. Overall the disc delivers the goods with the extras and good, but not great transfer.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am quite familiar with the Discovery channel documentary that has supposedly inspired this film by Peter Cornwell. The documentary "Haunting in Connecticut" chronicles the experiences of the Snedeker family during their stay in a certain house that was formerly a mortuary. So where is this story? I'll get right to the point, if you are expecting a dramatization or an accurate portrayal about the true events experienced by the Snedeker family; you are in for a huge disappointment. Peter Cornwell's "Haunting in Connecticut" is a film VERY loosely based off the true events and is your usual Hollywood serving of a horror film which offers nothing really compelling. Thank goodness the ensemble cast managed to pull together to carry the film's burden.
Now renamed the "Campbells" in this film, Sarah (Virginia Madsen) and Peter (Martin Donovan) are struggling to make ends meet as they try to keep their son Matt (Kyle Gallner) as close to his designated cancer clinic as much as possible. Sarah makes the step to rent a rundown house that was once a funeral home, a house with a past is something they could afford while paying their other existing mortgage so they can make the best of a difficult situation. The entire family moves in to try to adjust to Matt's ailment. But now Matt begins to experience hallucinations as he sees shadowy figures that haunt him almost relentlessly. Matt seeks assistance from a fellow cancer patient, Rev. Popescu (Elias Koteas) who tries to makes sense of the house's macabre signs and horrific past...
As a film based off true events, "Haunting in Connecticut" feels rather insubstantial. The film borrows elements from "Amityville Horror", "Momento Mori" and even "Poltergeist" all the while using the experiences of the Snedeker's experiences as a mere backdrop. The film's references to the original documentary are very light, and merely utilize them only as some sort of a theme. The film uses the usual cheap scares and "jump" gimmicks to generate some thrills, which makes for a very clichéd film. The film does somewhat exude an eerie atmosphere and the set designs are rather nice. It is all well and acceptable but not entirely impressive--it does have a stylish approach to its proceedings visually speaking.
I guess the problems with "Haunting in Connecticut" begin when it pitches clichéd elements to try to explain what went on in the house's past so that Cornwell could attempt to create a compelling horror film. The film should've done better if it focused more on the family; their money problems, a strong-willed woman who has to contend with a sober husband who had fallen off the wagon, and the actual effects of the haunting itself on the family. I wasn't given enough time to become attached to the characters, and instead the screenplay tries to indulge the viewer with cheap scares and the usual shadowy ghosts to keep things interesting. I also found some aspects of the haunting seem like a throw-away details and when the direction tries to make sense of its narrative, this is when it falters.
Not that the film had a weak storyline and its does set the needed groundwork, but when it does reveal the actual mystery at its core, it all felt too routine and not at all gripping. Gone are the investigations by renown paranormal scientists, the scene where the family stayed together in the living room and advised not to move out, the church's involvement and the exorcism scene that were essential parts of the documentary. Instead we get ectoplasmic vomit, sliced eyelids, pictures of the dead and a dark back story. So again, where are the hardships of the family in dealing with the supernatural? I highly doubt that any of these plot elements were actually based on truth and the film feels really based off guesswork as the actual interviews of the real family (in the dvd's special features) even somewhat confirm that the film's narrative is mostly fictional.
Thankfully the cast does manage to pull off some good performances. The mother played by Virginia Madsen has that sort of gutsy quality that was rather refreshing; it is always good to see a strong woman determined to save her son that for me, it generated some sympathy. Kyle Gallner is actually decent as Matt Campbell, you can see the sadness, grief, fear, confusion in his eyes. Elias Koteas' character feels rather stereotypical but I enjoyed the way he portrayed his character. The rest of the cast is pretty ok, and the little girl is just so charming.
"Haunting in Connecticut" may mildly raise heart rates, and may even offer a few freaky images but they are all something we've seen before. There's just hardly any feeling of nail-biting suspense, which is no fault of its cast but it was just the way the film was bombastically laid out. I thought I wasn't allowed much time to settle in and without proper development of the events, the film lost dramatic significance. One thing, I have to say, if the movie wasn't improperly marketed as based off well-known events (as documented by the Discovery channel), I may have liked it a little more for a PG-13 horror movie. The film is stylish, and at least it isn't another remake.
Rent it [2 ½ Stars=Fair]
The unrated cut has quick snippets of graphic autopsy footage and the eyelid scenes; it is still pretty much a PG-13 horror film.