I have to admit, Haunting looked really promising when I saw the trailer. Anything "based on a true story" prompts me to do some research online, find out the real story that sparked Hollywood's interest, and then see how the director works off this story. Unfortunately in this case, it is rumored that most of the "true story" just doesn't add up. It seems the only real parallel between the film and reality is that the family did in fact discover mortuary equipment in the house, which is in my opinion, a creepy enough foundation for a story. Needless to say I went into the theatre with low expectations.
I'm not going to bore you with the details around the plot mainly because it just wasn't all that interesting. A young boy (Matt) plagued with a painful cancer is relocated with his family to CT to attend a better hospital with experienced doctors there to treat his condition. He participates in a special study once there, and his father works multiple jobs to keep money coming in, taking road trips to visit the family on his off-time. The lack of a father figure is supposed to create a feeling of helplessness. There is "something strange about the house" as soon as the family visits it, and of course the rent seems oddly cheap for such an old house of its size. A strange presence is felt right away, there's a mysterious door in the basement that won't open, Matt begins having hallucinations and seeing ghosts, the rest of the family thinks it's the medicine, Matt meets a priest who knows the story behind the house, family does some research to learn the house's history, the haunting becomes stronger and begins to attack the whole family, they stay in the house (of course), the priest "cleanses" the house, then Matt saves the day by burning it down and destroying the corpses that are buried in the walls. There you go - I just saved you ten bucks . . .
The movie does very little to think outside the box - much of what you see has already been done. The influences are glaring -- think The Amityville Horror meets Poltergeist with a taste of The Exorcist, but not nearly as well-done as these three classics. There are some cool elements, such as the dead bodies engraved with letters and symbols (we never are told why) and the ectoplasm coming from the mouth of the medium during a seance scene. But the majority of the film relies on quick scares and Matt's hallucinations, and unfortunately that just doesn't dive deep enough for me. After awhile I found myself wanting to see the horror, not just in Matt's mind, but right there in the house and on the screen in front of us. A figure standing in the reflection of the mirror and a rotten corpse appearing in the room and then disappearing moments later is just not enough for me these days, but its a quick scare tactic that makes money. I have to admit, I jumped a whole bunch of times during the film, but there's so much more to the genre than that. A true horror film tells a disturbing story and leaves you with a feeling of unrest and discomfort in your own skin -- The Haunting in Connecticut is entertaining, but does very little to break new ground.