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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Haunting in Connecticut (The)

I went to the butt doctor today for my “pre-colonoscopy consultation” as if I needed personal instructions on how to drink the stuff that basically makes your bowels explode the night before the big event. I know he has a more technical appellation than that but the last time I saw him it was because I fell down a flight of stairs and I ended up with an orange-sized hematoma on my ass that he had to drain blood out of over and over again until I thought we were going to have to get married in at least 16 states since he’d spent so much time looking at my rear end. His name is actually Gino Trevisani, a brilliant colo-rectal surgeon and professor at FAHC, and he is also a wonderful, caring man (he’d have to be to look at my butt every time we met). Even so, I didn’t think I needed a doctor to explain to me how to give myself an enema. It’s pretty self-explanatory, I think. And if it’s not for some people, then those are some tapes I’d love to see shown on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” I’m saddened to think that we have a population out driving around that is so dumb it needs this degree of hand-holding just to make sure the doctor can get his camera up their tuchus to get a good look at what’s inside.

Okay, so this could have been tragic enough to sit through, but my dear doctor, who in his “spare” time goes to Iraq and saves the lives of our wounded soldiers (truly, he is a saint), decided to bring in a medical student and a nurse to share in this dog and pony show without asking me if I cared. It’s not that I would usually mind the audience for my insipid ramblings, but on this particular visit I had a whole other agenda I wanted to talk with Dr. Trevisani about concerning a matter completely unrelated to the irrigation of my intestines, and I would have preferred a modicum of privacy, but such is life. Anyway, the doctor was casually looking through my medical chart, which now looks like a dog-eared edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, and asked something under his breath about if I am “still writing about the movies.” I was amazed he even remembered considering I hadn’t seen him in three years.

As soon as the words came out of his mouth, Nurse Nancy’s kewpie-doll eyes lit up brightly and suddenly she blurted “What did you think about The Haunting in Connecticut?”

“In what context?” I replied. “As a movie? Or do you mean ‘Do I believe in ghosts?’”

“Did you think it was scary?” she coaxed. I could see from the smile on her face and the bobbing of encouragement from her head that she wanted ~ needed ~ me to tell her I did, even if I didn’t, so I side-stepped the question as best I could.

“My husband screamed like a little girl through the whole thing,” I told her truthfully. I felt ashamed throwing my perfect husband under the bus just so I wouldn’t have to continue this conversation. With that, I turned to Dr. Trevisani and pleaded with my eyes for him to interject with something less embarrassing ~ like a discussion about anal fissures or gas or colon ruptures, all of which he thankfully did, sparing me from bursting Nurse Nancy’s bubble of enthusiasm for what I didn’t find a particularly frightening film. In fact, I thought The Haunting in Connecticut was pretty funny, especially as it is so gravely presented with the label “based on a true story” at both the beginning and ending of the movie. Apparently director Peter Cornwell (tv series "Post Apocalyptic Pizza") really wants you to know that bit of information, as if it will make everything all the spookier. It doesn’t. If anything, I think it put me in the position of looking for the logical reasons for the things that happen to the Campbell family in the movie. I’ve seen the story before, presented in documentary form on the Discovery Channel, where the real family was named (the Snedekers), the actual town was revealed (Southington), and the authentic address used (208 Meriden Avenue), so I was familiar with the supernatural elements of the tale already; now I wanted to play skeptic.

Okay, so that didn’t last long. Yes, the basic plot explains the family’s dilemma right off ~ teen son Matt (Kyle Gallner; tv’s “Big Love”) has cancer that requires his mother Sara (Virginia Madsen; Diminished Capacity) drive him several times a week from their home out of state (more on that in a minute) all the way to this small town in Connecticut where the local hospital just happens to have the right equipment for his radiation therapy. The after effects of the treatment leave Matt so ill that he can barely survive the long car trips home, which take several extra hours each night because he has to stop often to vomit or rest from the motion sickness the car causes. What else can a mother do then but make an “executive decision” and rent a house near the hospital and then relocate the rest of the kids to be with her and Matt? Hubby Peter (Martin Donovan; The Alphabet Killer) is none too keen on this because his work as a contractor keeps him separated from the rest of the family during the week and the added expense of carrying a mortgage and a paying for a rental also means they are not going to be moving on up to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sk-i-yi-yi-yi-i-i any time soon. 

Naturally, this being The Haunting in Connecticut, Sara’s choice of real estate is not the best, or as the guy renting the place says “Well, it does come with a disturbing history.” The camera flinches so we won’t find out too quickly what that might be, but any cinemaphile already knows that “disturbing history” should come as no surprise to this family. “Sara”, for instance is played by Virginia Madsen, the very same woman who conjured up Candyman in the first of that series, and thus was pretty much responsible for having him slaughter everyone she ever cared about. She also ended up at Hugh Crain’s creepy estate in The Haunting and she wrestled with warring angels in The Prophecy. This woman brings psychic stench with her from the get-go.

As for her husband, “Peter”, Martin Donovan, when, in his first scene he complains to Sara about the long commute from their family home to the rental place in Connecticut, I couldn’t help but lean over and whisper to my husband that if he lives out of state and it is a couple of hours away from Connecticut, I’m betting their house is somewhere on Long Island, probably in Amityville. Besides, I recognize Peter. He’s also “The Ghost Whisperer”s long lost (and dead!) father and I remember him putting cookies out for the anti-Christ in The Visitation just a couple of years ago. No wonder these two would breed a kid who is like a magnet for bad mojo.

It doesn’t help that Matt immediately picks the basement as his bedroom. The basement! I know he’s a teenager, but geez. This house has like ten sunny rooms upstairs and he gravitates right away to the darkest, creepiest area in the house, the place with mysterious locked rooms and smoked glass begging to be looked through. 

So, no sooner do siblings Wendy (Amanda Crew; Break-Up Artist), Mary (Sophi Knight; Walled In), and Billy (Ty Wood; The Lazarus Project) move in does the creaking door syndrome go into overdrive. Does nobody in this town sell WD-40? Every step squeaks, every door cringes, and there isn’t a mirror that isn’t going to have a glimpse of something in it that shouldn’t be there. And yet Sara still doesn’t spill the beans about that “disturbing history” she’d learned about the place, not until after the spirits finally pop open the locked basement door, Matt goes mishuggah, and the Scooby-Doo kids a go to the local library, do their own research and figure everything out on their own.

Needless to say, the house was a den for dreadful, ungodly acts committed against the dead, who… yada, yada, yada… you know the deal. Cancer boy is going to have to avenge their defilement in order for them to rest, which means this would-be Robert Pattinson clone is going to have to kick some dark spiritual entity butt even though he is practically circling the drain himself. Will he live? Will he die? Will his mom mention Candyman five times in front of a mirror? Will you jump out of your seat?

Like I’m going to tell you. You need to see this one for yourself.

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