The Haunting in Connecticut
|The Haunting in Connecticut|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Peter Cornwell|
|Produced by||Paul Brooks
|Written by||Adam Simon
|Music by||Robert J. Kral|
|Editing by||Tom Elkins|
|Studio||Gold Circle Films
|Running time||92 min.|
The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 American psychological horror film produced by Gold Circle Films and directed by Peter Cornwell. The film is alleged to be about Carmen Snedeker and her family, though Ray Garton, author of In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting (1992), has publicly distanced himself from the accuracy of the events he depicted in the book. The film's story follows the fictional Campbells as they move into a house (a former mortuary) to mitigate the strains of travel on their cancer-stricken son, Matthew. The family soon becomes haunted by violent and traumatic events from supernatural forces occupying the house.
Although it was a moderately successful film at the box office (it grossed $77,527,732.), it received "generally unfavorable reviews" according to Metacritic. Gold Circle Films announced the production of two more entries in the franchise, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia and The Haunting in New York. They noted, however, that neither film would be a direct sequel to Haunting in Connecticut and would instead be self-contained films with unique characters.
In 1987, Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) is driving her son Matthew (Kyle Gallner) home from the hospital where he has been undergoing cancer treatments and traumas. Sara and her husband Peter (Martin Donovan), a recovering alcoholic, discuss finding a rental house closer to the hospital. On another hospital visit, Sara finds a man putting up a “For Rent” sign in front of a large house. The man is frustrated and offers her the first month free if she will rent it immediately. On the trip home, Matt is in extreme pain, so Sara drives back to the house, where they stay for the night.
The following day, Peter arrives with Matt's brother Billy (Ty Wood) and cousins Wendy (Amanda Crew) and Mary (Sophi Knight), and they choose rooms. Matt chooses the basement, where there is a mysterious door. After moving into the house, Matt suffers a series of visions involving an old, bearded man and corpses with symbols carved into their skin. The next day, Peter learns that the house was supposedly a funeral home after finding Matt and Billy in the room behind the mysterious door, which they discover is a mortuary. Peter then confronts Sara but eventually chooses to just ignore the house's dark past.
At the hospital, Matt confesses to another patient, Reverend Nicholas Popescu (Elias Koteas), that he’s been seeing things. Nicholas tells Matt to call him if he needs to talk. After another vision, Matt calls Nicholas and tells him about the visions. Nicholas advises him to find out what the spirit wants. Later, Matt finds a burned figure in his room as he asks the spirit what it wants from him and the ghost begins to move towards him. When the rest of the family comes home, they find a shirtless Matt with his fingers blood-covered from scratching at the wall. Even thought he is tortured by the ghost.
The family begins to crack under the stress of Matt's illness and bizarre behavior. Meanwhile, the children find a metal box of photographs, which show Jonah, a young man from Matt's visions, at a séance, emitting ectoplasm. Wendy and Matt research the house's history. They find out that the funeral home was run by a man named Aickman. Aickman also conducted psychic research and would host séances with Jonah as the medium. At one séance, all those attending, including Aickman, were found dead and Jonah disappeared.
Matt and Wendy then contact Nicholas to seek his help. Nicholas theorizes that Aickman was practicing necromancy in an attempt to control the dead and bind them to the house. He asks Matt and Wendy to take his hands and pray with him for the souls of the missing bodies and for Jonah. When Matt takes their hands, he is drawn into a vision of that final séance.
That night, both Wendy and Sara suffer visions of spirits. Peter arrives in a drunken state, and begins shouting at everyone for having the lights on, causing a frightening racket. Sara confronts him shortly after. When the family goes to sleep, all of the electronics in the house go haywire, terrifying them. In desperation, Sara contacts Nicholas. Nicholas finds human remains in the house and removes them. Matt later awakens to find Aickman’s symbols carved into his flesh. He is taken to the hospital, where he encounters Jonah. Meanwhile, Nicholas nearly crashes his car when Jonah appears in his backseat. He and Matt begin to have simultaneous visions, in which Jonah is shown years before. After emitting the ectoplasm, everyone in the séance is burnt to a degree, after a flash of bright light. The severely burnt and barely alive Aickman told Jonah to run away, concerned that the demonic presence will get him next. Jonah then flees. Seemingly the only way out, Jonah uses a dumbwaiter to escape, calling for help. Entering an unknown chamber, Jonah realizes that he has entered the crematory. Quickly before he can escape, the spirit traps Jonah in the crematory, and cremates him alive. Matt and Nicholas then break from the vision, after which Jonah's spirit disappears.
Peter and Sara meet at the hospital and learn that Matt's cancer treatments have had no effect. They then discover that Matt has escaped the hospital. Back at the house, Wendy takes a shower, while Nicholas leaves a message telling the family to get out of the house immediately – Jonah's spirit was actually protecting them from the spirits. Wendy is nearly suffocated by the shower curtain, but escapes, only to see Matt arrive with an axe. Matt breaks through the walls in the front room with the axe, revealing the dusty corpses Aickman hid in the walls. He forces Wendy and the children to get out of the house, barricading himself inside and tearing down the other walls, as marked corpses begin to tumble into the room. As he swings the axe, the view switches from Matt to Jonah, who seems to be occupying Matt's body. Matt lights the bodies and the room on fire.
Sara, Peter and Nicholas arrive with the fire department, Sara and Peter frantically try to get in to save Matt. Sara gets into the house and takes Matt under a table to avoid the falling timbers. The spirits, finally freed, disappear as a firefighter breaks through and pulls Matt and Sara to safety. Outside, everyone watches tearfully as the emergency crew attempts to resuscitate a dying Matt. As Matt slips away, he has a vision of himself standing in the graveyard where he sees Jonah, no longer appearing burnt. He seems about to follow Jonah when he hears his mother’s voice.
He returns to his body and Jonah's spirit leaves him, appearing next to Nicholas before finally vanishing and passing on. At the end of the film, we are told that Matt's cancer has disappeared, and the house was rebuilt and resold with no further reported incidents of haunting.
- Virginia Madsen as Sara Campbell
- Kyle Gallner as Matthew Campbell
- Elias Koteas as Reverend Nicholas Popescu
- Amanda Crew as Wendy Campbell
- Martin Donovan as Peter Campbell
- Ty Wood as Billy Campbell
- Erik Berg as Jonah
- Sophi Knight as Mary
True story claims
Promotional material for the film claimed that it is based on the "true story" of paranormal activities experienced by the family of Carmen Reed Snedeker in 1986. The Snedekers moved into a house in Southington, Connecticut in order to live closer to the UConn Health Center, where Carmen's son was being treated for cancer. The family would later claim that it was plagued by some manner of demonic presence. Mortuary equipment was discovered in the basement, and it was later found that the house had been a funeral home. Carmen described the demons: "One of the demons was very thin, with high cheekbones, long black hair and pitch black eyes. Another had white hair and eyes, wore a pinstriped tuxedo, and his feet were constantly in motion."
The house was examined by Ed and Lorraine Warren. According to a write-up on the case in 2009 by NBC, the morticians that worked in the mortuary were allegedly involved in necromancy and/or necrophilia with the corpses, and the room where the two youngest children stayed was previously the show room for caskets; down the hall was where bodies were prepared for viewing. Lorraine Warren would later state that, "In the master bedroom, there was a trap door where the coffins were brought up, and during the night, you would hear that chain hoist, as if a coffin were being brought up. But when Ed went to check he found two women down there dancing around in circles and singing; when he walked towards them, they disappeared." In response to the film, Lorraine would later say the actual case was "much, much scarier than any movie could ever be," and that the film was "very, very loosely based" on their investigation of the house. Lorraine Warren has told the Associated Press that the house was cleared of any presence after an exorcism conducted in 1988.
Filming began on September 10, 2007 in Teulon, and Winnipeg, Manitoba and it was released on March 27, 2009 in the UK, USA, and Canada. The film was later released over the course of nine months to other countries, and was shown at the Imagine: Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival the April following domestic release.
The Haunting in Connecticut debuted in the number one position on the DVD and Blu-ray charts with 1.5 million units sold. Rentrak reported that the DVD release of The Haunting in Connecticut was No. 1 in DVD sales for the week ending July 19, 2009. The extended version DVD includes a commentary with Director Peter Cornwell, co-writer Adam Simon, producer Andrew Trapani, and editor Tom Elkins, a second commentary with the director and actors Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner, deleted scenes with optional director commentary, featurettes ("Two Dead Boys: Making of The Haunting in Connecticut", "The Fear is Real: Re-Investigating the Haunting", "Memento Mori: The History of Post Mortem Photography", "Anatomy of a Haunting"), and a digital copy of the film on a second disc. The DVD material was produced and directed by Daniel Farrands, who also served as a producer on the film. The DVD release of The Haunting in Connecticut was the recipient of the Best Ghost Story award in Home Media Magazine's 2009 Reaper Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles in October 2009.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes rated the film as "rotten", with a 17% approval rating based on 94 reviews and an average rating of 4.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though it features a few scares and some creepy atmosphere, The Haunting in Connecticut ultimately relies too much on familiar horror cliches to achieve its goals." Metacritic found the film had received "Generally unfavourable reviews", scoring 33 out of 100 based on 23 critic reviews. While the film was mainly criticized for its use of horror cliches and "jump" scare tactics, certain aspects of the film were praised by many critics. Particular credit went to the acting: primarily the performances of Gallner and Madsen. Film critic Roger Ebert said the film "is a technically proficient horror movie and well acted," though he gave the movie only two stars.
In North America, the film opened in second place (behind Monsters vs Aliens), averaging $8,420 at 2,732 theatres. Its final North American gross was $55,389,516, and it made a further $22,138,216 internationally for a worldwide total of $77,527,732.
Gold Circle Films produced the follow-up The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia with Tom Elkins as director and David Coggeshall as the screenwriter, it was released in a limited theatrical run, and through Video on Demand, on February 1, 2013. A third film in the franchise was announced, The Haunting in New York, with Sean Hood writing the screenplay.
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- Official website
- The Haunting in Connecticut at the Internet Movie Database
- The Haunting in Connecticut at Rotten Tomatoes
- Snedeker Family Member Goes on Record with DamnedCT.com