Saturday, 12 July 2014

Stars: 3 / 10

Generic hokum abounds. If you're looking for cheap, gooey, and trite, you'll get plenty of it. I wanted to like this film... but it just wouldn't let me.

Honestly, I think I could have really enjoyed this story, had it simply been a humanistic drama (a family struggles to cope with their teenager's cancer while he suffers from "haunting" hallucinations), rather than a been-there-done-that haunted house story (which relies much too heavily on outrageous gore and cheap boo-scares, rather than real psychological terror and original storytelling.)

The story, as well as unoriginal, is unbalanced, going between heartbreaking drama and superstitious nonsense, with over-the-top gooey gross-out sequences that tend to nauseate, rather than terrify. By the grand finale, it became so unbelievable and outrageous that it was just laugh-out-loud hilarious. A general sense of secondary embarrassment for the cast and crew soon follows, as the credits roll by. . .

I had the most intense feeling of deja-vu throughout this film. Although I'm certain I'd not watched it before, there were several moments where I really did question, "haven't I already seen this?!" Perhaps the odd (if not occasionally uncomfortable) deja-vu sensation is because several elements of this film are strongly similar and/or blatantly derived to the Amityville Horror remake (2005), and Stir of Echos (1999). There are also some striking similarities to The Conjuring, which probably took cues from this film, since it was released several years later (though I did see it first.) You'll also find a bouquet of "haunted house" clich├ęs alla The Haunting (1963 and 1999), Burnt Offerings (1976), etc.etc.etc.

The score, in likening to its story, was really unbalanced. There were moments of Micheal Nyman-esque beauty, coupled with generic filler and obnoxious violin shrieks that only cheapened the jumpy scares.

The acting, editing, lighting, special effects, and all other general aspects of the film were ... "okay"... not particularly noteworthy, in either direction. However, the overall atmosphere of the house is spooky and I did feel a scene of dread and tension in several moments, on account of the set.

By the way, a little note for the paranormal gourmet: the self-proclaimed demonologists and ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were involved in the paranormal investigations in both of the actual Amityville and Conjuring cases - even being featured as characters in The Conjuring's lead cast - were investigators for the real-life case which inspired The Haunting in Connecticut. 

Be warned: If you are looking for a documentary, you won't find it here. This is, without a doubt, one of the most unbelievable "true story" films I've seen, yet. The movie is loosely inspired by the accounts of Al and Carmen Snedeker, who lived in a former funeral parlour in Southington, Connecticut, which they claimed to have been haunted. The story was first published by Ray Garton, in his book "In A Dark Place". Garton has since distanced himself from the claims of the Snedecker family and the Warrens,  and he disowned the book, proclaiming it to be 100% fiction. Several elements of the film's story have been altered from the original facts, up to the point of out-right lies, including the information about the house, given just before the end credits.

Director: Peter Cornwell
Year: 2009
Main Cast: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Martin Donovan


Post a Comment