An old Victorian house in Southington, Connecticut, which once was a funeral parlor, inspired this horror tale which is loosely based on incidents reported in the 1980s. Back then, the Snedeker family claimed their son heard strange noises in his basement bedroom, which once held casket displays and was located near the old embalming room. He said he saw grotesque, ghostly shadows on the wall, and a visiting niece claimed her bed covers levitated and she felt hands on her body when she was trying to sleep. So the Snedekers turned to ‘paranormal researchers’ Ed and Lorraine Warren, who’d previously participated in Long Island’s alleged “Amityville Horror.” Utilizing a séance, the Warrens claim to have ‘cleared’ the property of evil spirits in 1988, documenting it with a book and a show on the Discovery Channel.
In this new movie, anxious mom Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) talks her recovering alcoholic husband Peter (Martin Donovan) into renting a dark, deserted domicile with “a bit of a history” in upstate Connecticut so she can be near the clinic where their teenage son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is receiving experimental cancer treatments. Soon after unsuspecting Sara moves in with their two younger children (Sophi Knight, Ty Wood) and a niece (Amanda Crew), the floorboards are creaking ominously and Matt is plagued by shadowy visions of a charred, clairvoyant child (Erik Berg) who, apparently, had been an unwilling participant, a kind of demonic messenger, in the sinister séances.
Working from a predictably creepy screenplay by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, director Peter Cornwell (“Ward 13”) suggests a macabre, malevolent menace, augmented by the warnings of a dying priest/exorcist (Elias Koteas) who senses evil afoot. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Haunting in Connecticut” is a hokey, formulaic 4. But that doesn’t discourage curious tourists who have already begun driving by the spooky residence which now belongs to a skeptical family named Trotta-Smith, who bought it 10 years ago. They claim they’ve never seen anything unusual and they don’t believe the scary stories.