AWFJ Women On Film – “The Haunting In Connecticut” – Susan Granger reviews

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.