The Haunting in Connecticut (DVD)

True-life supernatural events have long proved tempting fodder for film-makers; movies like The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose have all been based on the horrors suffered by real people – all with a bit of dramatic license thrown in, of course. And while Peter Cornwell’s dramatization of the spooky ordeal faced by the Reed family back in the 1980s isn’t quite as scary as finding a ghost in your spare room, its atmospheric chills may send a shiver or two up the spine.

When Sarah Campbell (Virginia Madsen) moves her family to a new home in Connecticut, to be near the hospital where her teen son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is receiving treatment for cancer, she hopes for a better quality of life. It soon becomes clear, however, that Matt has become a target for a supernatural entity that and, as he suffers from increasingly violent visions, the true history is revealed in terrifying detail…

The haunted house story has been a regular feature throughout the history of cinema, which means that, as a genre, it’s unsurprisingly feeling rather tired. Creepy basements, ghoulish secret rooms, killer showers… despite Adam Swica’s shadowy cinematography, and some well-timed shocks there’s a sense that we’ve seen it all before.

The acting is solid enough to ground the story in a sense of reality necessary for it’s shock value – the scares lie in the fact that these are bad things happening to good people. Gallner is great as a lad facing the terrifying unknown, not just of things that go bump in the night but also his own mortality, while Madsen is naturally sympathetic as a despairing mother prepared to go to any lengths to help her son. Their talents aren’t quite enough to push The Haunting in Connecticut above Saturday night schlocker, but it’s perfectly serviceable – if instantly forgettable – as that. 2.5 stars

Extra Features
There are three featurettes, focusing on the making of the film, the history of postmortem photography – which plays a large part in the movie – and, most interestingly, an in-depth look at the real life hauntings. There’s also a conversation about the events with a psychic, plus a handful of deleted scenes. 2.5 stars

Stars Virgina Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas
Director Peter Cornwell
Distributor Entertainment in Video
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released July 20