Based on a true story…possibly the most terrifying words to ever appear at the start of any horror movie. Not because it makes it more real or anything but because it means we’re more then likely about to watch a slab of utter rubbish that thinks adding those words will somehow make it more scary. Don’t forget that Blair Witch claimed to be based on a true story.
So here is the true story:
In 1986 Carmen and Al Snedeker moved to the town of Southington, Connecticut, with the purpose of being closer to the hospital at which their oldest son was being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Having money issues the family rented a large house. It was while they were moving in that they discovered a room in the basement that housed embalming tables and tools. The house, it turned out, used to be a funeral home.
Soon after strange events began to occur according to the family. Items would go missing, the younger children claimed to have seen people inside the house & both Carmen & her niece were supposedly violently attacked. At the same time, the oldest son who was under-going radiation treatment began to have huge shifts in his personality becoming angry, withdrawn & violent (he even attacked his cousin with the intention to harm her).
The family contacted the controversial paranormal investigators, Ed & Lorraine Warren who moved in for a while & supposedly experienced lots of spooky phenomenon. Supposedly one of the funeral home directors had been a necrophiliac.
The Warrens did a full exorcism of the property & the house was declared ‘clear’.
All very exciting but all very debatable…you see many people who lived in the house both before & after claim to have never experience any paranormal activity in the slightest.
There is plenty of evidence to refute the families claims but perhaps the most damning is the statement novelist Ray Garton got upon speaking to Ed Warren when researching for the book ‘In a Dark Place’ which was about the events that took place in the house.
Garton said it was difficult to write the ‘true’ story because none of the people involved could keep their stories straight. Everyone was contradicting everyone else. When he went to Ed Warren with the problem, Garton wrote in a post dated April 27, 1999:
“He told me not to worry, that the family was ‘crazy.’ I was shocked. He said, ‘All the people who come to us are crazy. You think *sane* people would come to us?’ He knew I’d written a lot of horror novels prior to that, so he told me to just make the story up using whatever details I could incorporate into the book, and make it scary.”
So with all that knowledge about the real story behind the movie the big question that has to be asked is the movie any good though?
The answer is both yes & no. On the supernatural front it’s pretty basic & nothing new to fans of the Amityville Horror & it’s crazy sequel. However where it excels is with great acting & decent story about a family struggling to deal with impending loss of their eldest son to cancer.
What? Did you think I was talking about the ghosts? Ha, no.
To enjoy this movie properly you just have to forget any notion of reality. It says based on…that’s because it adds a hell of a lot more such as additional characters & visual moments that are designed to entertain. I’m totally fine with that…horror movies should entertain.
The Campbell family find a house near the hospital their eldest son (Matt) is receiving treatment for his cancer. It’s rent is cheap & its size will accommodate their family. It’s perfect or so it seems, the mother Sara (played by an impressive Virgina Madson) is told of it’s history, that it used to be a funeral home but needs must so the family move in.
It’s not long before strange occurrences begin to happen, most of them revolving around Matt. He begins to have visions of things that occurred in the house long ago involving seances & a boy who could communicate with the dead.
It’s not long before these visions & the general spooky goings on begin to affect this behaviour & general attitude. The strain of Matt’s impending mental breakdown begins to have an effect on the rest of the family but they continue to keep it quiet from the doctors worried that he will be kicked off the treatment course he is currently on.
…but things are only getting worse. The visions increase & it’s not long before the rest of the family come under attack from the malicious spirits that live within the walls.
The Haunting in Connecticut is a movie that just leaves you disappointed. It has a good base story to go on (the supposed true story) but fails to add anything interesting or meaningful elsewhere. The back-story involving the child medium could have been a heart-rendering tale involving a child being exploited & it going horribly wrong but instead it’s mishandled & results in some horrific effects involving ectoplasm.
The film isn’t scary, it offers nothing fresh in that department & relies heavily on jump scares & almost moments. Matt’s visions gives the film far too many opportunities to throw a big scare out there then retract the effects instantly. With little consequences it’s hard to even care about Matt’s mental health. This was a golden opportunity to work on more psychological scares alongside the obligatory jump scares but it never happens. In fact the film goes so over-board by the end that it is almost laughable & so far from convincing.
What is convincing though is the acting from most of the cast, Matt (played by Kyle Gallner) showcases the pain he is in wonderfully even if it does leave him with one expression for most of the movie. He’s a sympathetic character under intense strain & desperately trying to ease the burden of worry from his loving parents.
As ghost stories go there are far worse out there, it’s far from perfect relying on far too many tired troupes to really be worth recommending but it does have entertaining moments & a bat-shit crazy ending that has to be seen to be believed.
The Haunting in Connecticut