Film (with rating): The Haunting in Connecticut (PG-13)
Summary: Inspired by a true story. When a family moves to upstate Connecticut, they learn that their Victorian home was once a funeral parlor where unspeakable acts occurred.
Review: I love haunted house stories. I saw ” Amityville Horror” when I was eight or something, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Good people crossing paths with evil supernatural beings. Good stuff. Sure, they can be hokey at times, but a good ghost story taking place in some old house with a tragic past is always a bestseller for me. “The Haunting in Connecticut” isn’t very original in its concept, but that doesn’t seem to harm the film too much. The acting, especially by Virginia Madsen as the family mother, is surprisingly well done for a horror film, and is not overdone.
One thing I really liked about “Haunting” is that it centered around a flawed and stressed-out family full of problems (alcoholism, cancer, etc.). It wasn’t about this happy-go-lucky family, whistling joyfully as they moved out to the country before getting struck by a supernatural fist to the face. The reality of the character’s situations made the film’s entire pretense seem a bit more believable. “Haunting” is billed as a true story, but I’m thinking it’s loosely inspired by something that happened. We’re not talking documentary here, folks. Supposedly, the story comes from the real-life drama of Allen and Carmen Snedeker who moved to Connecticut to be closer to a treatment center for their sick son. Like so many of these “based-on” Hollywood adaptations, creative license most likely took precedence.
Director Peter Cornwell throws in many, many scream moments; some are truly worthy, others are overdone. That latter note is the biggest drawback to the film. What at first seemed like a scary scene or effect loses its thrill the fourth or fifth time around. In other words, the film tries too hard too many times. Despite that, prepare to physically jump at least once or twice while watching this flick. Don’t expect any new twists on the genre, but “Haunting” won’t leave you throwing your dinner at the TV, either. Most likely.
Extra highlight: “The Fear is Real”
What to serve for dinner: A taste of New England: clam chowder (www.allrecipes.com).
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can New England clam chowder
* 2 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams, one drained and one undrained
* 1 quart half-and-half cream
* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
Mix cream of celery soup, cream of potato soup, clam chowder, one can undrained clams, one can drained clams, half-and-half cream, and whipping cream into a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with crusty sourdough bread, a green salad and white wine.
What to talk about over dinner: Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not? What was one time you’ve been scared silly? Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe “Haunting” was based on a true story, or mostly embellished? What are you afraid of? What would you do if your house was haunted? Would you stick around, or hightail it out of there? What was the scariest part of this movie for you? How could it have been better? Would you ever buy a home with “history?” Would you want to know your home’s history in the first place?
BEFORE THE SHOW BEGINS…..
While “Haunting” isn’t much of a kids’ movie at all, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good family night this weekend. Before watching Virginia Madsen break out her ghostbuster moves, sit down with the kids and watch one of HIT Entertainment’s new releases. My favorite (well, I should say my daughter’s favorite) was the Barney Lunch Box Gift Set, a cute lunch pail containing three Barney DVDs: “Adventure Bus,” “Imagination Island” and “Everyone is Special.” Others in the collection include Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and the Care Bears (remember them?? I think I still have one of those dolls in a box at my parents’ house.) While they might have been better timed to be released right before school started, the lunch pails and the enriching children’s entertainment is too good to pass up, any time of the year. And they proved to be a good talking point about the upcoming school year, too. (“What are you looking forward to most when school starts up?” “What things do you want to learn this year?” “Who do you hope to have for a teacher? Why?”)