March 27, 2009
Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe
Virginia Madsen as Sara Campbell
Kyle Gallner as Matt Campbell
Elias Koteas as Reverend Popescu
Amanda Crew as Wendy
Martin Donovan as Peter Campbell
Take a middle-class Christian family and put them in a former funeral parlor turned seemingly quaint Victorian home in the country and what do you have? A lesson for one: always get a little history on the home you’re renting, especially if it’s cheap and the first month is free. Despite it’s somewhat Swiss cheese plot, The Haunting in Connecticut takes us on mysterious journey through the past and present, and keeps its promise to frighten all the way along.
Living in New York, the Campbell family is dealing with teenage son Matt’s battle with cancer. When long trips to and from the clinic in Connecticut become unbearable, Matt’s mom Sara rents a house in Connecticut. Since the family’s struggling financially with high cost of medical treatment, it’s a good (and weird) thing the house is such a great bargain. From the first night they set foot in it however, Matt begins to see things – Sara mopping up blood that isn’t really there, plates moving around in the kitchen. Chalking it up to side effects from his cancer treatment, the family tries to comfort Matt, even as his behavior toward them becomes increasingly hostile. Kyle Gallner’s performance as Matt in The Haunting in Connecticut, by the way is outstanding, as he alternates from vulnerable and weak, to intense and half-crazed.
As it turns out the real estate agent had neglected to fully disclose to the Campbells that their new house had been a funeral parlor in the early 1900’s complete with a mortuary in the basement, and a group of undead that won’t leave. Facing the possibility of death himself, Matt seems to be the easiest prey for the ghosts, especially Jonah, the young clairvoyant who once communicated with the dead and now has a message for the living.
This is where the Swiss cheese part comes in.
As if life-threatening illness isn’t stressful enough on a teenage boy, one would think when you realize your rented “extra” house is haunted (other family members start to see ghosts as well) you would simply pick up and go home. But no. Sara decides the family will endure the ghosts, as well as the violent outbursts of her alcoholic husband (who wouldn’t go back to drinking?)
Why the ghosts? It seems this house was no ordinary funeral parlor. In fact its former occupants not only embalmed the dead, they held séances for their loved ones to communicate with them. Imagine the Campbell kids’ horror when they uncover century-old mementos like a box full of decrepit eyelids. Yes there was a little more than meets they eye (so to speak) with the former inhabitants, and finding out the truth is the Campbell’s’ only way out (other than walking out the front door but they’re not doing that).
The ghosts in The Haunting in Connecticut are quite disturbing, with prayer verses etched into their bleeding skin, and ectoplasm (slime) spewing from their mouths. To find out more about them and why they’re so peeved, Matt and his young aunt Wendy go to the local library where they turn up all sorts of macabre stories about the house and the family that lived there. Armed with this knowledge and the help of Matt’s fellow cancer patient, Reverend Popescu, the Campbells are ready for an exorcism…
Are the family efforts in The Haunting in Connecticut successful? Do the Campbells make it out alive? And what of Matt’s cancer? Let’s just say despite her questionable choices, Sara may have been right when she said “God works in mysterious ways.”