The Haunting in Connecticut (review)

It’s almost impossible not to be sympathetic to any character Virginia Madsen (The Number 23) plays, she’s so irresistibly likeable a screen presence, but that gets tried sorely in this rote haunted-house flick, which telegraphs its obvious scares, even the ones it has shamelessly stolen from far superior scary movies. The year is 1987, and Madsen’s Sara Campbell moves into a rental house in Connecticut with her teenage son, Matt (Kyle Gallner), who is undergoing cancer treatment at a nearby hospital, and a slew of other kids (some hers, some nieces staying with her for unexplained reasons). A smarter movie might have worked the angle, once dark specters and weird happenings start to rattle Matt, that his extreme treatment and closeness to death is triggering wild hallucinations… which could have made for a fascinating psychological horror tale. Instead, though, screenwriters Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe and first-time director Peter Cornwell want simultaneously to ramp up the terror by insisting that this is “based on the true story” while deviating so far from the simple facts of the matter that the only conclusion possible is that they know it’s all a big cheat, and don’t care. It all climaxes in a finale that is such utter hogwash — one that bears no relation to “the true story” and is even more ludicrous as fiction — that it completely negates even the cheating: Tell a fictional story, or tell a real one, but if you’re gonna try to give a fictional story the aura of plausibility by saying it’s true, it sure as heck had better end up plausible in the end.

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