DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

The Haunting in Connecticut - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}From the time we stepped out of caves and started building houses there has always seemed to be a global fascination with the haunted house story. What comes as a surprise in the filmmaking industry, with such a rabid taste for them, is the fact that very few of them succeed at the box office. Year after year (and increasingly so now with remake-itus in full swing) the same horror fodder seems to litter our screens and earn a decent buck. But haunted houses seem to be that one horror subject matter that they either (a) Can't do very well or (b) Can't often seem to connect with audiences either commercially or culturally.

The  Aunting in ConnecticutWhy can't the big screen often capture that thirst we have for a spooky tale?
Haunting in Connecticut is based the alleged true story of the Snedeker family's terrifying experiences in the 80's recounted in the novel: ‘A Dark Place'. In this adaptation, the family's eldest son is critically ill with cancer and is having trouble with the commute to and from his home town for treatment. His ever-dutiful mother, trying to spare him those long and painful journeys, rents a house ‘with a catch' near his treatment center—and the obvious spooky stuff starts to happen.

The story is not the problem with this one at all. It has layers, it has characters with real and relatable problems, it has different points of view, it has in some instances some good writing. What it lacks, all complexities interwoven aside, is anything resembling a fresh approach to a well-trodden old path. There are no surprises. The house has a history (don't they all?) one family member sees stuff others don't (don't they all?) there's a red herring (which is badly in need of some clarification at the end). If there were any unique elements to the haunting of the Snedekers it's lost in this film. If one were to write a recipe for this film, it would be an easy one to guess: take a big helping of Amityville, a sprinkle of Poltergeist, and smidgin of House on Haunted Hill, and presto! There are countless clichés from haunted house movies gone by, in addition to the number one Noughties horror cliché to tell you when to be scared with loud sound effects and choppy music clip edits. The execution is just lazy and uninspiring or effecting.

There are a cluster of finely pedigreed actors in this film, from Virginia Madsen to the always wonderful Elias Koteas. They elevate the characters beyond what they should be. They make what would almost certainly have been a dull and hokey mess at least bearable with their undeniable watchability.

The music is also a letdown. If you look at the music used in the trailer, and compare it to the actual film, it boggles the mind why they didn't go with the off key piano to help unsettle you. But like everything else in this film, it seems to this viewer that everyone involved was merely interested in playing it straight, taking no risks, and as a result being just another in the long line before them.

Perhaps this is the reason they don't connect with us: like Hollywood's remake-itus tendencies, those who choose to tell these stories are relying far too often on old contrivances and methods. While we as an audience will forever be interested in a good old spooky yarn, being fed the same spoonful time after time just isn't gonna cut it. This is a pedestrian effort with good production values and a good cast, nothing more.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
2 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
2.5 stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurette; "Lose Myself" music video by Ms. Lauryn Hill; original short "The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas".

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track with director Cornwell joined by producer Andrew Trapani, co-writer Adam Simon and editor Tom Elkins.
  • Feature-length commentary track with Cornwell with actors Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner

Featurettes

  • Two Dead Boys: The Making of The Haunting in Connecticut (14:05)
  • The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting (41:03)
  • Anatomy of a Haunting (11:48)
  • Memento Mori: The History of Postmortem Photography (10:26)

Deleted Scenes - Six deleted scenes for a total of 8:30

Previews - The film's theatrical trailer and trailers for other films round out the first disc

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging. Disc 2 is a digital copy of the film

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