Now available on DVD
Virginia Madsen as Sara
Kyle Gallner as Matt
Martin Donovan as Peter
Elias Koteas as Reverend Popescu
Amanda Crew as Wendy
Directed by Peter Cornwell
It is hard to make a fresh movie based on the old haunted house storyline. As South Park would say “The Simpsons already did it.” Or, in this case, Hollywood.
Rattle off the numerous list (and I’ll probably forget some so I apologize in advance) of the classic horror films that have already “been done it before”: The Shining, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, The Haunting, House on Haunted Hill. Those are just the good ones. The wealth of bad haunted house horror flicks are too numerous to mention â including the remakes (or sequels) of many of those already listed.
But surprisingly, The Haunting in Connecticut actually succeeds in giving us not necessarily a fresh take on the haunted house genre but at least an enjoyable one with a number cool ideas that come together nicely in the end.
We are introduced to Matt (Kyle Gallner) who is suffering from cancer and frequently has nausea on the 300 mile trip to and fro to the hospital for treatment. Fed up with putting her son through torture, Sara (Virginia Madsen) decides that they should rent a house closer to the hospital for the duration of a new treatment to combat his cancer.
They get a house that’s got plenty of room but they get it cheap, which should have been the first clue. Soon, Matt begins to see visions of a burned teenager and a number of corpses all with crazy writing from head to toe. But he’s battling cancer and the doctors warned him he may see things.
So is it the trauma of cancer that is affecting him (since initially he is the only one)? Or is it actually something more evil from the house itself causing Matt to see these visions?
When Matt finds a book documenting some of the crazy experiments and rituals that happened inside the house – which they find out was once a funeral home way back when – Matt and his cousin Wendy (Amanda Crew) enlist the help of Reverend Popescu. Popescu immediately discovers something’s not right in the house and that whatever force is there wants Matt. And the longer they are in the house, the worse the visions and ghost attacks get. Matt even has a vision of the same boy and a sÃ©ance where the boy shoots ectoplasm out of his mouth.
Now after reading everything you just did in regard to the house you now live â the fact it was a former funeral home, that people held weird batshit crazy sÃ©ances where people had strange goo come out of their mouths, you’d think that Wendy would get the hell out of there. Yet, the next scene she’s sleeping as a baby and, of course, gets terrorized. As does Sara changes her tune quick and re-enlists the help of Reverend Popescu to rid the house of evil.
Butâ¦oops, Popescu removes the wrong corpse. He mistakenly believes the haunting is coming from the boy that’s appeared frequently but the boy was actually the one warning Matt and the others of the greater evil, the bodies and souls forever trapped their after the funeral home owner performed crazy experiments on them, violating their eternal slumber.
Soon we see the rest of the flashback that the ectoplasm from the boy actually caught those holding the sÃ©ance on fire and the boy himself was burned alive not by the fire but by the house that consumes him. And the Reverend and Matt must find discover how to end these ghostly apparitions and end their torment.
The Haunting of Connecticut DVD is offered up as unrated, straying from its original PG-13 rating. This means you get more shocks and more goo but as no one dies (well, that’s not already dead), there isn’t much blood or gore. And with a decent amount of scares it is definitely worth checking out. But the kicker is that the DVD includes a host of detailed, in-depth featurettes that make the experience that much more. The details of these extras are below.
A nice little handful of special features are included on the two-disc special edition version of the DVD with featurettes and deleted scenes. There is also a digital copy of the film, which is increasingly becoming a common occurrence to modern home video. And might I add a welcoming addition. Why not give us the digital copy especially in this age of digital everything and mobile devices that have become so ubiquitous in our lives.
“Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut” takes a peak at the set of the film and the various details that go into making of the horror film â the fake operating instruments, the sprayed on webbing, the foam bodies, the necromantic writing. About the first 6 minutes is spent on the background of even coming up with the idea of the film â based on a real event from a real haunted house they say â choosing a director, the actors and their choices and more. Some of the best parts come Madsen who is really personable in her interview talking about the anatomically correct foam corpses to working on horror films that sucked and without a script to some of the “strange things” that happen on set. Good stuff from her and the featurette as a whole is enjoyable and informative and isn’t just a promo piece for the film you’ve either just bought or rented.
“The Haunting Is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting â Part One” is a documentary looking at the actual case of the people that lived in a house similar to the one in the flick with a son that had cancer and that they lived far away from the hospital and it made him sick. They also rented a house closer to the hospital and that the house was a funeral home at one point. It is an eerie look at an actual family that the script heavily borrowed from. And by heavily borrowed, I mean it is nearly a direct copy of the experiences these poor people had happen to them. While the actual ghosts are different and what was actually haunting them different, the entire set-up of the film is based on this family.
“The Haunting Is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting â Part Two” continues the documentary of the family and the appearance of various ghosts that continued to visit them in their house. And because the ghosts became more aggressive, the family turned to a supernatural expert familiar with such hauntings. And as with the movie, they experienced food going bad, the shower curtain attack and that something was done in the funeral home to the bodies there. But things taken an interesting turn after the family goes public over the hauntings and things go from bad to worse as people take advantage of the family, steal their stories, publish items of disbelief and get generally ostracized from the public. The end came when the supernatural hunters and the family worked on an exorcism on the house that ended the haunting. Fascinating stuff for sure, and a very good special feature.
“Anatomy of a Haunting” looks at how they went about coming up with the haunting itself and what to expect given some of the real hauntings that have happened over the course of history. We get a number of supernatural investigators talking about hauntings and what has happened and how they dealt with it and ultimately solved it or didn’t.
“Memento Mori: The History of Postmortem Photography” is a very interesting featurette looking at how people used to photograph the dead and how the dead were taken care of in olden times. Many people died in their homes, were given final rights in their homes and later buried elsewhere. It is a way of documenting the dead and keeping a memory of what the beloved person was like prior to dying or at the time of death. Apparently, this practice is still taking place in children’s hospitals where a dead child is born and are photographed with the parents â who most at the time do not want it but later will come back for it.
The deleted scenes are good for one thing. To find out why they were deleted. The audio commentary that goes along with them give the story which is nice but typical of why deleted scenes usually end up on the cutting room floor.