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The Haunting In Connecticut
First off, I’m a huge fan of haunted house flicks: The Haunting, The Changeling, and The Shining are all films that rest upon the peak of haunted horror greatness. Robert Wise’s original film is a masterwork of chills and mystery, but really, most of the success of the truest of haunted house flicks lies in the directors’ ability to personify the house itself; Wise’s film is no different, and it is my favorite haunted tale of all time. This isn’t to say that solid character development is not a necessary in these types of films, because it certainly is, but I also believe a wonderful haunted house film requires a lot of balance between what is seemingly coming alive, to what is still human.
In order to save a little cash for reoccurring expenses due to a member’s illness, a rather large family moves into an old house in the country. Nothing about the house gives you that warm and cozy feeling and most of the time our characters feel the same. It is soon discovered that torture, cultism, and other rituals were preformed within the walls and that many of the restless spirits still inhabit the structure. As if you needed to up the creepiness factor, the house was also a mortuary. SWEET!
It sounds like we’re in for a huge supernatural extravaganza, right? Well, this film carries on many themes and ideas, possibly too many, and while some of the paranormal scenes are quite interesting, many miss the mark completely. As a result, The Haunting of Connecticut falls flat. It could have easily been so much more, but so many scares and wonderment are forfeited do to the fact that the film constantly tries to add unnecessary value to characters that are extremely difficult to admire. The drunken father is almost unbearable in too many scenes. Along with the father, the history of the house is far more interesting than any other character in the film, but still, too frequently we are asked to have sympathy and even relate with many of the characters. It doesn’t happen. Maybe if the film focused more on giving life to the house instead of its trite characters??? Just a thought….
So what’s with the cover art? Well, other than it being a bit odd…and gross, it’s also intriguing for those who have followed the paranormal, and perhaps biological, theories of tangible extractions of ectoplasm. It is said that a spirit can pass through, if not already inside a live subject, during the practices of certain séances. The spirit will move from the human host through its orphases. Yikes! And, GROSS! Well, it’s said that the ectoplasm moves out of mostly nostrils and mouths and that it has a distinct smell and an actual cloudy shape. A chilling scene in the film shows a rather tense séance that involves the removal of ectoplasm from a young boy’s mouth. The snap shot on the DVD cover is from this scene. Anyway, what starts off as a tense enactment suddenly turns into a scene of letdown due to poor CGI animation. The rest of the film can be summed up in much of the same manner. Do to clumsy scare tactics and odd animations, even when the ectoplasm starts flowing, The Haunting of Connecticut never really manages to get under your skin.
While many of the themes in the film are interesting, in the end, the scenes play out with too much focus on family values and not enough attention is given to the necessary elements that are needed to build a horror film that can draw its audience in. I’d love to see a film that fully examines the ideas of ectoplasm and séances. The Haunting of Connecticut is not that film. If anything, it can quickly be forgotten.
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