Hauntingly horrible

Chris Kallio

Horror film fails to setup genuine horror

There must be something awry with the horror genre. An incredibly minuscule amount of horror films have genuinely been horrifying, and almost none have been original. Perhaps no better example exists than in “The Haunting in Connecticut,” the “true” story that is hauntingly horrible and miserably cliché.

“The Haunting in Connecticut” stars Virginia Madsen as a mother intent on keeping her family together and saving her son from cancer. Throughout the story, the audience is told of the “mystery” surrounding this haunted little house in Connecticut (it used to be a mortuary). Kyler Gallner, the son with cancer, is the only one who can witness the unusual circumstances of the house at first.

It is not necessary to discuss the acting, only that Gallner appears as a Joaquin Phoenix-esque disturbed child and that Elias Koteas (again looking like, to me at least, a hybrid of Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams) appears as a cancer-suffering pastor who conveniently happens to know exorcism. But Koteas, as he often has been, is wasted in the film, and unfortunately provides some of the film’s worst dialogue.

Real Quick:


Starring Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas

Directed by Peter Cornwell

Rated PG-13

Runtime 102 mins.

Stater rating (out of five): ★★☆☆☆

Among the clichés are a troubled family, “a house with a history” and enough bumps to induce a headache, which brings about the question of where should the criticizing begin? Perhaps with the sepia tone meant to provide the audience with the exposition? Or the failed attempt to establish an atmosphere in which an audience might accept as frightening? Or maybe the phony use of “based on the true story” to pretend that there is some authority in telling this story? Or the unrelenting and unsuspecting moments of “terror” that feel equal to the feeling of another bailout coming?

Or maybe that the filmmakers have created yet another nauseous film for the sake of creating nausea? It’s as if there was a checklist provided for Peter Cornwell, the director, by the producers of what he was required to put in his film.

It is hard to argue that filmmakers like Peter Cornwell do not know how to make the audience jump, but they should be ashamed that they cannot and apparently will not produce a truly original scary movie; bumps in the night simply will not make an effective horror film.

Stuff like this might have worked in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” or maybe even a Harry Potter film, but it does not work in a genuine horror film. Is there something wrong with the horror genre these days?

If so, it probably is not the fault of the studios, for they are presumably entertaining an audience who demands these films in the market. But surely the days of superb horror films from the likes of Hitchcock and Friedkin are far from us.

Contact all correspondent Chris Kallio at

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