A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a review of the movie shown in theaters and not the Unrated Special Edition, which is sure to have scarier, raw content. This "based on a true story" horror film, while milder than movies like Saw, is still too scary and disturbing for kids. It's full of mutilated bodies, bloody scenes, supernatural violence, and medical and autopsy imagery. There are also fairly serious discussions of the challenges facing a teen fighting cancer. One character is a recovering alcoholic who starts drinking again and ends up driving drunk. But the language doesn't get much stronger than "hell" and "oh my God," and sex and product placement aren't an issue.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, the Campbell family purchases a home so that their son Matt (Kyle Gallner) can be closer to treatment for his cancer. The home, it turns out, used to be a funeral home -- and as the uneasy spirits who were tormented there rise up to haunt, bedevil, and assault the Campbells, Matt becomes the vessel for their supernatural rage. Can the love of Matt's mother (Virginia Madsen) and father (Martin Donovan) and the efforts of a cancer-patient priest (Elias Koteas) quiet the old funeral home's angry ghosts and save the family?
Is it any good?
The Haunting in Connecticut is similar to other haunted house epics like The Amityville Horror; it's so similar, in fact, that you have to wonder what the point was in making it. Despite a cast of excellent actors, the movie is dreary and dull, relying on obvious jumps and jolts to scare us and culminating in an orgy of special-effects violence as poorly made as it is tedious.
If The Haunting in Connecticut were better made, it wouldn't feel so familiar; if the story didn't rip off The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, The Ring, and dozens of other movies, perhaps the movie's tiredness wouldn't sting quite so much. Cliched, tedious, and full of cheap jumps in the absence of true horror and suspense, The Haunting in Connecticut is somehow jam-packed with dead bodies but completely devoid of any reason to care about the live characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of horror movies -- why do we like to watch things that scare us?
Which is scarier: a movie with a ghostly villain or one with a real-life bad guy? Why?
How accurate do movies have to be when they're "based on a true story"? Can filmmakers make changes even when they're using that label? Is that OK? Why would they want to change things?
- In theaters: March 27, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: July 14, 2009
- Cast: Elias Koteas, Martin Donovan, Virginia Madsen
- Director: Peter Cornwell
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some intense sequences of terror and disturbing images
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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