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The Haunting in Connecticut

Long Live the Dead…

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

The Campbell family hasn’t exactly had an easy time of things lately. Their eldest son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is battling cancer and the family just took up residence in a house that has a bit of ‘history’ to it. To say there are a few skeletons in the closet barely scratches the surface in The Haunting in Connecticut.

Admittedly, the decision to move into the house was a bit hasty, but Matt’s rapidly declining health and his participation in a clinical trial for cancer treatment in Connecticut forced Sara Campbell’s (Virginia Madsen) hand. There was no time for a thorough inspection of the property. The paranormal shenanigans begin almost immediately upon taking up residence.

Initially, it’s just Matt who seems to pick up on the weird vibes the house gives off. He gravitates to the basement for some odd reason and becomes fixated on a locked door that seemingly no one can open. In short order, Matt starts seeing mysterious, scary figures, blood on the floor, and experiences more than his fair share of disconcerting experiences.

Unfortunately, one of the conditions of Matt’s participation in the clinical trial for his cancer is that he must not be suffering from any visual/auditory hallucinations. Thusly, it behooves Matt and his mom (Sara) to keep things under wraps. Tension builds as Matt struggles to ignore the increasingly disturbing ‘hallucinations’ while his health declines and familial/financial stress builds.

The real key to making a film like The Haunting in Connecticut work is creating an abundance of tension and gradually applying it. Fortunately, screenwriters Adam Simon/Tim Metcalfe were up to the task. Simon/Metcalfe really put the Campbells in an uncomfortable position from the very beginning and keep tightening the noose.

Complementing the solid writing is the debut direction of Peter Cornwell. Cornwell clearly knows the genre well. The Haunting in Connecticut has the typical weird noises, uncomfortable camera angles, and spooky figures seen only for a fleeting moment, but it’s all pretty well-timed and unsettling despite the relative predictability of it all.

Speaking of unsettling, the performance of Kyle Gallner as Matt could easily be described this way. Playing a young man hovering near the edge of death, Gallner is disturbingly believable. He seems haunted before he even begins to deal with the horrors that inhabit the house. The history of the house begins to weigh on him and his formerly optimistic and darkly humorous outlook on his condition becomes sinister and foreboding.

The Haunting in Connecticut is one of the better horror films released in recent memory and is in some ways a throwback to some of the better supernatural horror films from the 70’s and early 80’s (The Changeling, Don’t Look Now). However, the film does have a few ‘Lifetime-Movie of the Week’ overly melodramatic moments. Fortunately, these moments are few and far between.