A pale imitation of ghost stories from the past

Amanda Crew in "The Haunting in Connecticut," an example of the haunted-house genre dating to 1979's "The Amityville Horror."
Amanda Crew in "The Haunting in Connecticut," an example of the haunted-house genre dating to 1979's "The Amityville Horror."
Posted: March 27, 2009

In yet another entry in the crowded field of haunted house/possessed kid films (supposedly) based on real events, The Haunting in Connecticut is a tepid PG-13 iteration of the already lame 1979 genre classic The Amityville Horror - transplanted from Long Island to the Constitution State.

Philly-born actor Kyle Gallner, 22, who cut his teeth as a young'un on TV in Veronica Mars, Smallville, and CSI: NY, stars as Matt Campbell, a kid with cancer whose failing health - and metaphysical proximity to death - make him an ideal candidate to be the film's Hero Who Sees Ghosts But Is Not Believed.

Sexy genre veteran Virginia Madsen, 47, stars as Matt's protective, melancholy mother who relocates the family, including Matt's much younger brother and sister and their cousin Wendy, to Connecticut to be closer to a hospital offering a radical new cancer treatment.

Ma Campbell finds the perfect house to rent. A ramshackle Victorian number, it has many dark cubbyholes, a scary dumbwaiter, and a super-creepy basement.

The setting is apt: Connecticut's state motto, Qui transtulit sustinet (He who transplanted still sustains), could be the definition of ghosthood.

Who still sustains? Try an entire town of spirits: Matt finds out his new home is a former funeral parlor. What's more, the proprietor used a young medium named Jonah to do scary things.

Jonah haunts Matt, who learns he must undo the evil done by the funeral director to save his family. Good performances and an eerie atmosphere can't save the flick: I'd wait for the DVD.


The Haunting in Connecticut ** (Out of four stars)

Directed by Peter Cornwell. With Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Martin Donovan and Amanda Crew. Distributed by Lionsgate.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (disturbing images, adult themes, corpses).

Playing at: area theaters.


Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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