Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Haunting in Connecticut

My Rating: 4/10  

Almost any time a movie opens with, "Based on a true story", you know you're in for something shit, especially when the movie goes obviously beyond what any true story would include, like this film's house full of hidden corpses. When it was over, I looked up Lloyd Auerbach's commentary on this (He's one of the few reliably skeptical parapsychology researchers out there) and found it was pretty much as I figured. Just reading that Ed and Loraine Warren (Famed carnie fakers of the so-called "real" Amityville Horror) were involved, that was enough.

So - Our family has a teen son with cancer. To be near his hospital, they rent a house close by, an ancient mansion-looking thing with about 35 rooms. Son is on meds which include the possibility of hallucinations, and soon enough he is seeing ghosts. Turns out the house was originally a mortuary run by a crazed doctor who used a psychic boy to contact the afterlife for seances, and bound the spirits of his dead customers to the house by mummifying their bodies and hiding them on the grounds. Why? This is never explained. But it's the kind of thing I'd do for fun on a weekend, so I'll let it pass. 90 minutes go by in which you get to see every haunted house cliche in the book, from bleeding floors to ghosts in the mirror to a kindly priest called in to do an exorcism. 

This is a 4/10 movie. Plus side - Nice FX, creepy zombies, and a great basement operating room. Minus side - Acting all over the map, no character personalities to speak of, and no real surprises. The family has a formerly alcoholic husband who predictably gets drunk again in a plot thread that goes nowhere, a teen niece who gets menaced when naked, and two precocious young kids who scream a lot. If there's ominous music building up as a character approaches a mirror in a dusty room, looks into it, looks away at a noise, then looks at the mirror again... You KNOW there will be a zombie face in the mirror. It's that sort of movie.

It was competently shot and budgeted, at least, so it doesn't have that videocam feel of so many indie horrors these days, but it still has plenty of WTF moments. WTF, like...

If a teen girl finds that all the food in the house has suddenly rotted in an instant into maggoty black goo, her natural reaction would be to shrug, go, "Oh well", and take a shower?

If your kids are so terrified of the dark that they're leaving their lights on all night, your response is to smash all the lightbulbs in the house to force them to be brave?

Your sick son is obviously hallucinating badly and having drug reactions, so you let him keep his bedroom in the damp cellar next to the decaying mortuary embalming room?

After repeated possessions, ghost attacks, dish hurling, furniture piling, and a mass undersea sponge migration, you stay in the house? This was probably the silliest bit - After some pretty insane shit happens and keeps happening, nobody even once voices the idea of moving. It's a bit out there to see someone running shrieking in terror from a shuffling zombie in the night, and then fixing breakfast the next morning like June Cleaver. 

So, the best I can say for it is, it is 1:43 of non-boring movie. Not good, not awful, just kind of... there. This would probably be blisteringly terrifying to the sort of teen pack who would be whispering to each other, "OMG OMG did you hear this is a TRUE STORY?? OMG!!" Errrr, yeah.  


Suggested Accompaniment: Pepsi.  Popcorn.  Extra butter, because you'll need it.  I stress Pepsi instead of Coke because Coke is the black swill of Satan.