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The Haunting in Connecticut(2009)
The astounding, well-documented story of a family forced to relocate near a clinic where their son was being treated for cancer. Strained financially and emotionally, the family discovers their recently renovated home was a former mortuary with a dark history. After experiencing violent supernatural events both inside and out of the house, the family seeks the help of ghost hunters and the Catholic Church, which performs an exorcism.
For more about The Haunting in Connecticut and the The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray release, see the The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Peter Cornwell
Writers: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan, Sophi Knight
» See full cast & crew
The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray Review
A seen-one-seen-em-all Horror flick spooks up decent technical specs on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 9, 2009
I don't know why this happened to us.
A paint-by-numbers Horror/Thriller with a PG-13 high school audience in mind, The Haunting in Connecticut forgets the one key ingredient required in making a scary movie: scares. Hedging its bets on the familiar refrain that aims to frighten audiences with split-second bursts of loud musical cues combined with disturbing imagery, the film never finds much of a stride and falls into the trap of building up a somewhat creepy but not at all terrifying atmosphere and then doing little-to-nothing original with it. Fortunately, The Haunting in Connecticut does manage to serve up a decent story and develop its characters to a satisfactory level, so all is not lost with this one. Nevertheless, and no matter how the story may be framed, the nitty-gritty details that make up The Haunting in Connecticut are but interchangeable spare parts that have scared up enough box office returns to keep them well-oiled and at-the-ready for whatever "Horror" movie may be next in line for the PG-13 crowd dollar.
It is June 1987, and Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He still receives treatments and prayers from his caring mother, Sara (Virginia Madsen), though his burden is almost too difficult for both her and her husband, Peter (Martin Donavan), to bear. Also difficult are the long drives to and from the hospital where Matt receives his treatment. In a desperate move that makes more sense for Matt than it does the family's pocket book, they rent out a large house close to the hospital. It's a house with a history, for it was once a funeral home, and the basement that Matt turns into his bedroom was its central hub for the care of the recently deceased. Matt begins to hallucinate soon after moving in, though whether the effects stem from his treatments or something otherworldly isn't immediately known. When Matt discovers that a sealed door in the basement opens to a room that matches that seen in one of his grisly hallucinations, he comes to realize that more than honest mortician's work once defined the goings-on in the house. During one of his treatments, Matt meats a fellow cancer patient, a Reverend named Popescu (Elias Koteas), who helps Matt come to realize that the illness that is slowly but surely inching him towards the grave has allowed him to come into contact with another plane of existence not normally witnessed by healthy human beings. Together, they must solve the mystery of the haunted Connecticut house before it tears Matt's family apart.
Though The Haunting in Connecticut doesn't exactly mark the revival of the Horror genre, it's far superior to much of the bilge that has dragged the genre down to the low common denominator in which it now thrives. Whereas films like One Missed Call feature vapid plots devoid of substance and inferior characterization, The Haunting in Connecticut admirably attempts to build both its plot and characters to a respectable level that makes the film worth watching, even if it ultimately succumbs to rudimentary and dull scare tactics. This film builds a suitable -- and perhaps most importantly partially believable -- back story (inspired by "true events," more on that in a moment) that not only piques the interest but builds an emotional and relatable foundation upon which to construct the remainder of the picture. Although what's been assembled on top of the foundation amounts to little more than a throwaway genre picture, the foundation remains the core, the strength, the most important element of the whole, and in that regard, The Haunting in Connecticut surpasses many of its peers, its gallant effort to buck certain trends (while wholeheartedly embracing others) and giving credit to the intelligence level of its audience goes a long way in making this one passable entertainment.
One of the film's main selling points stems from the proclamation that the events depicted in the film are based on true-life events. That statement has itself become a cliché of the Horror genre, effective in a few cases (the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, for instance) but generally overdone and not exactly a box-office busting selling point after all these years. No matter, though, as pictures like this need only a 2-minute trailer packed with half the jump scenes in the film to guarantee a hearty intake of moviegoer cash at the end of the day. As alluded to earlier, The Haunting in Connecticut easily offers more bang for the buck than most of its similarly-themed brethren. Director Peter Cornwell's picture is a technically proficient one, and it boasts a collection of lead actors that deliver satisfying, believable, and relatable performances. The family-in-crisis angle is done well here, the entire cast creating a familial environment oozing with notes of reality. The tension between husband and wife stemming from the multitude of crises, both physical and financial; Matt's acceptance of his fate but keeping up a sturdy, stalwart posture; and the younger ones' confused acceptance of every situation life throws their way; all make the plot more believable, more engaging, more urgent than any generic tag line ever could.
The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Haunting in Connecticut moves onto Blu-ray with a sound 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. In its early scenes, the image reveals a nice array of colors that appear bold yet natural and pleasing to the eye. During a breakfast scene before the move to Connecticut, several hues stand out nicely, including a blue shirt worn by Sara and the brown kitchen cabinets, both playing nicely against the more reserved background colors. The scene also offers a nice level of detail and clarity, the knickknacks, kitchen appliances, and other background information looking pleasantly lifelike and tangible. As the film moves on, it takes on a darker, more sinister and unforgiving tone that tends to drown out both color and detail. Grain is present throughout, but it spikes, and appears rather heavy, in several scenes, not to be confused with some segments meant to look old and worn where noise appears at its heaviest. The house takes on several different looks, the most prominently displayed are a few warm, inviting locales that are offset by several dark, steely rooms, both creating their own atmosphere but both not offering much that translates to high definition "eye candy." No surprise that good blacks are crucial to a proper presentation in a film like The Haunting in Connecticut, and generally, they're fine. Not overly bright, sometimes seeming to crush finer details, and often accompanied by a heavier grain structure, blacks never disappoint but never truly "wow," either. Flesh tones, on the other hand, often look a bit pale and ghastly, not counting Matt who, due to his illness, reveals a lighter skin tone to begin with. With no startling anomalies to bring it down, The Haunting in Connecticut offers a solid 1080p image that looks fine in context but certainly won't be playing on displays as gear-selling demonstration material in any stores.
The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Haunting in Connecticut haunts Blu-ray with an effective DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless surround sound track. Making full use of the entire soundstage, this one delivers creepy content that is heard -- and occasionally felt -- in every speaker in the 7.1 configuration. As expected, the soundtrack relies on pinpoint placement of sounds -- creeks in the house, hurried footsteps over old wooden floorboards, screams and pleas for help coming from any direction -- and the track delivers the goods expected of it. The location comes alive from a sonic perspective, and several times throughout effectively places the listener in the midst of the many sonic oddities that plague the Campbell family. Aside from the many pronounced directional effects, this soundtrack also delivers suitable atmospherics; an early outdoor scene delivers the sounds of chirping birds from every corner of the soundstage with reserved yet noticeable and realistic presence. The film's score plays with suitable clarity, and dialogue delivery never misses a beat. A soundtrack that fits the movie perfectly and delivers the expected array of haunted house-like sound effects, Lionsgate has delivered another high quality soundtrack for The Haunting in Connecticut.
The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Haunting in Connecticut scares up several bonus features worth investigating. First up is a pair of commentary tracks, both available only with the unrated version of the film, the first with Director Peter Cornwell, Producer Andy Trapani, Writer Adam Simon, and Editor Tom Elkins. A by-the-book commentary, these participants run the gamut of the usual array of topics, speaking on the origins of the project, the quality of the actors, the plot, its themes, and other assorted tidbits. Plenty of humor finds its way into this one, too. Track two features Director Cornwell and Actors Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner. The track flows a bit better than the other and retains its sense of humor, particularly through the dominant Madsen, mixing both background anecdotes and pertinent information on the film. Two Dead Boys: The Making of 'The Haunting in Connecticut' (1080p, 14:36) is a basic piece that delivers cast and crew speaking on the history of the project, the assemblage of the cast and the strengths they brought to the project, the challenge of working around the picture's dark themes, the sets, and more.
The Fear is Real: Reinvestigating the Haunting (1080p, 41:46) is a two-part documentary composed primarily of interview clips with the Snedeker's, the family whose story inspired the film, and their friends and associates. Anatomy of a Haunting (1080p, 12:17) looks at the world between life and death. Memento Mori: The History of Post-Mortem Photography (1080p, 10:59) takes viewers into the history of photographing the dead as a form of remembrance. Also included is a collection of deleted scenes (480p, 8:32) with optional director commentary, the film's trailer (1080p, 2:28), and additional 1080p trailers for My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Eye, and Cabin Fever. LG Live allows users to activate "widgets" over the main menu that displays the current weather, time, and Lionsgate-related news. It also currently offers a collection of online trailers. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the film. Sampled on a second generation iPod Touch, the image suffers from noticeable blocking throughout but otherwise appears steady and accurate to the source. The audio track delivers a fairly mundane experience, strong in all the right places and featuring a fair bit of left-to-right and right-to-left information but, obviously due to limitations, not nearly as immersive or chilling as the track found on the Blu-ray disc.
The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The primary problem here is that the movie -- and its style in particular -- feels stale. No doubt this would have worked a bit better a dozen years ago when the Horror genre wasn't quite in the dumbed-down doldrums it finds itself in today, replete with plenty of unoriginal ghost/spirit/specter pictures. The Haunting in Connecticut just feels like another copycat movie with its reliance on the boring standby that seeks to scare movie patrons not with deep-seeded, truly horrific over- and undertones or even gross-out imagery, but rather with cheap shot jump scares that rely more on a thud of a piano key than anything else. To its credit, The Haunting in Connecticut does try and build up a solid foundation through creating sympathetic, well-developed characters and a moderately creepy atmosphere, but it just cannot resist the urge to fall back on tired Horror clichés that have definitely run their course. Still, this is a much better effort than many of the other like-minded pictures of recent vintage, which is reason enough to give this one a watch. Lionsgate's Blu-ray presentation fares a bit better than the movie. Sporting a rather drab but seemingly accurate-to-the-source transfer, an immersive lossless soundtrack, and a healthy dose of extras, fans of the film or the genre shouldn't have any reservations about picking this one up. For all others, The Haunting in Connecticut wouldn't make for a bad rental.
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The Haunting in Connecticut Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia Blu-ray - February 1, 2014
Lionsgate Films UK has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of Tom Elkins' The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013), starring Abigail Spencer, Chad Michael Murray, and Katee Sackhoff. The release will be available for purchase ...
• The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia Blu-ray - February 4, 2013
Lionsgate Films will release on Blu-ray Tom Elkins' The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013), starring Abigail Spencer, Chad Michael Murray, and Katee Sackhoff. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the country on ...
• Lionsgate Wave Gets Detailed - May 21, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Haunting in Connecticut', which is due to hit store shelves on July 14th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Additionally, they have announced ...
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