Like comedies that fail to deliver laughs, there’s no worse fate for a horror movie than saying it fails to deliver frights. Sadly, this is the case with The Haunting in Connecticut. The film purports to be based the “true” story of events that beset the Snedeker family (changed to Campbell in the movie) in the 1980s and was dramatised to much greater effect and creepiness by the Discovery Channel series A Haunting.
With their eldest son Matt’s body ravaged by cancer, the family enrolls him in clinical trials for a new treatment at a distant hospital. Rather than subject Matt to long commutes in his weakened and sickly state, the family rents a house close to the hospital, undeterred by the knowledge that the stately yet affordable home once served as a funeral parlor. Paranormal manifestations begin to occur shortly after they move in; however, these are initially confined to Matt being the only one who sees them. At first, it seems as though director Peter Cornwell wants the audience to doubt the veracity of the hauntings by planting the seed that these may be the byproduct of Matt’s treatment, going so far as to hammer home the point that his doctors have warned that hallucinations are possible side effects signalling that a patient should be removed from the study. Sadly, this creative angle, which could have held much promise for a clever twist or two, is jettisoned when the rest of the family begins experiencing the paranormal.
The movie eventually settles into a quagmire of mumbo-jumbo hokum as Koteas, playing the part of a psychic reverend also at death’s door due to cancer, is brought in to help the family deal with the spirits. The end result is a story that descends into a cacophony of absurdity and forced dramatic tension, with what little scares there are along the way largely those of the “boo” variety where something jumps out at the viewer. The end result is a story devoid of natural, imagination-fueled scares and tension, and is instead a rather bland, uninspired exercise in cheap thrills and morose story telling.