To make a good horror/thriller, you need 3 things: a good story, believable actors, and not be a remake. Without a good story, the movie will ultimately fail. Without believable actors, you’ll feel nostalgiac about the 1980 slashers you watched at the drive-in 30 years ago. Now, some remakes are good, don’t get me wrong. But there are just too many of them! This year especially; apparently Sean S. Cunningham is recession-proof. I’m not bad-mouthing him, I’m simply speaking what I’m thinking. Loving the Friday the 13th, Halloween and Last House on the Left reincarnations, and they weren’t even original. Haunting in Connecticut was. So why did I hate it? Maybe because the scares never lasted, unlike monster-movie slashers Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Maybe it was because the so-called “horror” aspect of the cinema was more of a thriller, if it was anything at all. Drama, mostly. I mean, the kid has cancer, the mother cries, the father’s a drunk and they all pray. Seems like a “based on a true story” not “true events” sort of flick. Psh.
The Haunting in Connecticut is basically riding on one fact-that it’s “based on true events”. That’s partially true. When asked, everyone involved in the actual “haunting” that took place in 1986 in Southington, Connecticut said it was a hoax. Hogwash. If you didn’t quite catch it yet, “not real”. The movie tells the story of the Campbell (the actual family name is Snedeker, why they changed it, I haven’t a clue) family. They move to Southington and buy a house so their son, Matt, can be closer to the hospital where he’s receiving treatment for his cancer. Soon, he begins to notice paranormal activity that freaks his family out every time he screams. But, much like every other ghost story, nobody believes him. Plus if he tells his mom that he sees things, his doctor will discontinue his treatment. Sucks. The cancer and the drunk father (Martin Donovan is brilliant) are the only two things that are the least bit scary in Haunting. Or if you think writing on yourself is terrifying, this horror-wannabe is the flick for you.
I wouldn’t even mind that if Lionsgate didn’t stretch the original story so much that it’s almost broken. The Snedeker family admitted that the lights flickered a little. Nothing more, nothing less. To me, that doesn’t scream “make me a movie!” The people that acted this out were awful, as well. The mother Sara (Virginia Madsen) has got to be Chandler Canterbury’s (Nicolas Cage’s son in Knowing) mother in disguise because every time she cried for her son, I yawned. I yawned more than once, just F.Y.I. The son Matt (Kyle Gallner) was the most believable of the cast. The bags under his eyes, his pale skin and that “I’m-dying” vibe he gives off whenever he enters a room made me feel sad. Not just for the movie this time. Amanda Crew, I was disappointed in the most. She was Wendy (either Matt or Sara’s sister, I couldn’t decide). I recall her from the raunchy comedy Sex Drive last year as Felicia, the girl who had previously befriended Josh Zuckerman and Clark Duke. She was part of the reason I welcomed Drive in as one of my favorite movies of 2008. This time around, however, the director (Peter Cornwell, who the hell is he?) never gave her a chance to shine. Much like Andy Fickman shunned Dwayne Johnson in the Disney sci-fi Race to Witch Mountain.
You can never accurately predict how a teen-targeted horror will play out. We were all surprised with the awesomeness of February’s Fired Up! yet disappointed in last Summer’s Disaster Movie, and our feelings stay the same for Haunting. Well, what can you do? Hollywood is deceiving, but ripping off a cancer victim’s family? Wait, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Neither did Haunting.
Check out the video review here.
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- at 4/05/2009 02:20:00 PM on Sunday, April 5, 2009
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