The scariest part of the new thriller "The Haunting in Connecticut
" comes during the opening credits.
"Based on the true story," we're told, and it's hard not to giggle.
That's not the kind of scary the film's producers were gunning for. But it's a good fright for horror fans hoping to trade their hard earned cash for some goosebumps. Sure enough, "Connecticut" can't deliver on the scares, but at least it's not as monumentally silly as the "true story" warning portends.
Horror movies can live or die in the casting. The recent "Last House on the Left
" remake shouldn't have been so effective, but all the key roles were fleshed out with alacrity. Same goes for "Connecticut," which gives the unsung Virginia Madsen
a rare lead role. She plays Sara, the mother of a cancer-stricken teen named Matt (Kyle Gallner
). She moves the family to a wheezy old rental house that's only a few miles from the boy's hospital.
Sara scored a great deal on the property which could only mean one thing. There's a catch, right? Turns out the home once served as a funeral parlor. That's creepy, not as as creepy as the horrifying images Matt starts seeing as soon as they make themselves at home. His medication could be making him hallucinate, but the audience know better. This house ... is haunted.
Cue the scary music!
Things start going bump in the night, and soon other family members can't help but take notice.
The haunted house genre is exhausted at this point, and no amount of CGI trickery can undo that reality. The special effects, include the ectoplasm out of the orifice bit, are just good enough to flesh out the film's trailer.
"Connecticut" trots out the standard combination of genuine and cheap scares, but the foreboding music and obvious staging means we see it all coming a block away. The introduction of Elias Koteas
as a savvy pastor gives some juice to the story, but ultimately we're left with more exposition than a horror film should have.
As good as Madsen is here, selling a stock role with maternal pride, Gallner is a few paces better. He immediately wins us over as a boy who won't let self-pity get in the way of what could be his remaining months on Earth. He's an actor to keep tabs on, to be sure.
The truth behind "Connecticut" is that it wouldn't be worthy anyone's time if neither Madsen nor Gallner were around to haunt it.