The Haunting in Connecticut


Virginia Madsen as Sara Campbell
Kyle Gallner as Matt Campbell
Elias Koteas as Reverend Popescu
Amanda Crew as Wendy
Martin Donovan as Peter Campbell
Sophi Knight as Mary Campbell
Ty Wood as Billy Campbell
Erik J. Berg as Jonah
John Bluethner as Ramsey Aickman
D.W. Brown as Dr. Brooks

There are some things that just won’t stay dead. Despite all logic and reason, they rest dormant, only to spring at us when we least expect it. Case in point, “The Haunting in Connecticut,” rising from the grave of Lionsgate’s shelf where by all rights it really should have stayed.

Allegedly based on events in the lives of Al and Carmen Snedeker, “The Haunting in Connecticut” follows their fictionalized counterparts, Sara (Virginia Madsen) and Peter (Martin Donovan), who begin renting a house in Connecticut in order to be near the hospital where their eldest son, Matt (Kyle Gallner), is undergoing experimental cancer treatment. It soon becomes obvious something else is living in the house with them.

There’s been some hand wringing and recriminations about just how true a story “The Haunting in Connecticut” is, but really it doesn’t matter. Everything in the film could be 100% factually accurate and it would only mean that the Snedekers are possibly the most boring people on Earth. The Campbells certainly are.

Director Peter Cornwell has made as cookie cutter a horror film as you’re likely to find. Lots of music video jump cuts and lens effects, lots of jump scares, shadows in the corners of the frame. And not a single original or scary notion in the lot.

The idea seems to have been to focus not as much on the ghost as on the family and how the strange goings on in the house effect them and strain the bonds of family. Which isn’t a bad idea, but it’s sabotaged by the flatness of the characters and Cornwell’s indecision about where to put his focus.

The only one close to well rounded is Kyle who, facing the very real possibility of his own imminent death, doesn’t find ghosts as off-putting as the rest of us might. He mostly ends up being just passive, a conduit for the spirit of a dead medium (Erik J. Berg) and a couple of ham-handed screenwriters to send their exposition through.

It really does seem to want to engage the viewers on an emotional level, but it can’t seem to get around its need to have everyone talk in exposition and not much else. Elias Koteas’ character pops up at just the right moment to lend his expertise of which he has plenty apparently just because he’s a Reverend. Apparently ghost hunting is one of the courses taught at divinity school.

It’s not bad, just very, very flat, and without a single original bone in its body. There’s only one compelling moment in the film and Lionsgate seems aware of it as they’ve put it in every trailer and on every poster. It’s like hearing a song on the radio you really like, only to discover later that it’s the only song on the album that sounds like that. You just feel had. Lionsgate should have done us all a favor and left this one buried.