Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Movie Review: The Haunting in Connecticut

In this movie the Campbell family go through a rough time, as their eldest son Matthew is diagnosed with cancer. Desiring to live closer to the hospital, the family buys a house with a somewhat shady past. It really doesn't help that Matthew is suddenly seeing dead people walking around. But are they real or is it just the new medication he's on? 

The Haunting in Connecticut is really a mixed bag for me. There is an almost equal amount of good actors, bad actors, spooky moments, gory moments, genuine dumb moments, great characterization, and obvious plot devices. 

I’ll start with the positive. I really liked Matthew’s character, and the actor who plays him. As a kid stricken with cancer from the beginning, we are automatically supposed to feel sympathetic towards him, yet he doesn’t let his sickness stop him from trying to solve the mystery of the house. In some moments it’s not really clear if the evil of the house is affecting him as he gazes coldly at the family, yet a few scenes later he’s smiling and joking with the rest of them. I equally like Elias Koteas's performance, who plays a somewhat quirky Reverend who also suffers from cancer and can see the dead like Matthew can. 

We also get Virginia Madsen, who plays a mother who is either sobbing or proclaiming that she’s going to protect her family. Just like in my review of the Number 23, where she plays…a mother either sobbing or proclaiming that she’s going to protect her family. But to her credit, she does it very well. 

The movie really resolves around Matthew and his mother, and we could easily do without the rest of the characters. The father has a sub-plot with alcoholism that is pointless and leads to nowhere, the rest of the kids are just cute wallpaper with the exception of the teenager, who is both badly acted and just unexplainably dumb. In one scene she is well aware that the house is haunted, and after discovering all the food mysteriously turning rotten, but rather than running out of the house her kid siblings she decides to…have a shower. Okay, not my first thought if this ever happened to me. What's next, going down to the basement with all the lights broken?

Despite the amount of time they spend on characterization, it’s somewhat overshadowed by the number of jump-out-of-the-closet scenes. This movie will not bother keeping you in suspense-if there’s a hint of something wrong, it will instantly be followed by a mysterious psychopath standing in the background, followed by shrieking violins. You’ll hear those violins a lot in this movie, believe me. There are also a number of cringe-worthy gore scenes in this movie too.
I’m also of two minds about the ending. Without giving too much away, I liked the ending, but I didn’t think it should have been the proper ending to this film.

FINAL GRADE: 3 ½ out of 5. Good acting makes this movie better than average, but there are still problems.   

In case you couldn’t tell from my bunny poster, I’m getting a little tired of having gross movie posters on my site.

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