by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
This is a dual review of both the documentary of A Haunting in Connecticut and the 2009 movie. I posted the documentary review earlier in the week.
I saw the movie before I saw the documentary. Once the movie piqued my interest I decided to start looking for stuff online abut it. I love stuff that has a basis in fact (even in the most loose way). That lead me to YouTube where there were a few videos such as TV news segments and such. I happened across one of the segments of the documentary and started watching it all. You can read about that in the other post. This review is about the movie itself.
A Haunting in Connecticut is your typical Hollywood fare. It takes the story that you know about from the documentary and puts that Hollywood shine on it. Some of the facts are changed in base facts of the story but for the most part they stick with the 'real story' until about halfway though. At this point the movie needs to go out with a bang so they do the whole 'hollywood thing' to it. I can't blame them. The actual story just ends with no real resolution. The family has the exorcism and all is quiet with the house from that point on. This is a movie... we can't have something as mundane as that happening!
The story revolves more around the oldest son and his illness more than the facts tell us. In the movie the son is there right up to the end and in the events of the actual haunting he is basically taken out of the home about halfway through the whole ordeal. I can totally understand having the son be the focus of the movie (you have to do that sort of thing to keep things centered and tell a compelling story).
For as much as alot of the events of the movie seem old hat to horror fans they are portrayed just as the family said (at least until the last half of the movie). The bloody mop incident seems like it came right out of a movie but the mother says that what happened. As I have covered with the documentary a few people say they made all of it up so maybe it did actually come out of a movie (where she got the idea), who knows.
The 2nd half of the movie is where they basically leave the 'true events' behind. They needed to in order to make it a big budget horror-fest. The mundane and random events are dumped to add the more interesting sub plot of communication of the dead and physic mediums into the mix. The movie reaches a crescendo with bodies, fire, and a removal of remains that was very reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4's Freddy's burial scene. Like I have said a few times I can't fault them for taking the movie there. You have to make stuff big (and whenever possible explode) in order to cash in on the those big movie dollars.
I watched the DVD and the Bluray versions and both look fine. My crappy 2nd generation Bluray player had problems loading the menus at one point but eventually I got it to work. I also watched the documentaries that were on both and enjoyed them as well. There is one that is basically a new retelling of the documentary with the mother Carmen. It is interesting but not as good as the old documentary. There is a making of feature which is fun, a short feature on memorial photography in the 19th century which was morbidly interesting, and a boring 'Anatomy of a Haunting' feature. There are some other typical features on too like commentaries.
A Haunting in Connecticut is an enjoyable and well made movie. It doesn't set new levels as far as a haunted house movie goes but it's not bad. Check it out if you are interested (check out the documentary first).