Saturday, September 26, 2009

Haunting, sure, riveting, not so much

I'll have you all know, I tried watching this movie with an open mind, tried to kick back and enjoy myself like I do with all horror, except those selected few films that are built around allowing no such respite, such as Man Bites Dog, Irreversible, anything Haneke makes, etc. I even watched it in the dark, something I seldom do. By comparison, keep in mind that I saw Drag Me To Hell, as mentioned in my previous post, during the daylight. Sure, I was sceptical in my preview, but I had been told the movie actually was crazy scary and, by extension, crazy awesome, so my expectations were pretty high.

Anyway, The Haunting in Conecticut is todays film, and let me just start of with a sincere plea to all the horror movie makers that probably isn't reading this particular blog, stop with the fucking «based on a true story» or «based on real events» taglines and whatnot. Seriously, the hype effect is getting old, real old. The Haunting in Conecticut does this particular schtick to death. Maybe understandable since it's based on an episode of a Discovery program about an alledged haunting case in the 80's, but still, this movie is claiming to be real to the point of obnoxiousness. For example, the movie begins with filming the filming of an interview with one of the main characters. This scene would maybe be more effective if they hadn't added mood music to this «unedited» footage, complete with clapper and all.

Oh, and one more thing, when the «interview» is by one character, following another character more tightly and showing things that might or might not be real that, one assumes, only he can see... the much important suspension of disbelief tends to take a hit or eleven, but you're more likely to forget the intros annoying «lookie how real this is»-angle, and thus rendering it somewhat pointless.

But I'm messing up my tried-and-true formula here, gotta recap the plot briefly before I start the actual fun. The Campbell family rents an old house «with a history,» one of the children, Matt, is suffering from cancer and, it turns out, also hounding by a ghost. The rest of the movie is mostly 50% touching family-and-cancer-drama and 50% not-really-original ghost horror

Seriously, this movie is one long itemized list of haunting clichés, things that once was an ingenious new way of portraying the presence of an evil ghost but now has been done to death by so many less-than-original hacks that it lost any and all impact it might have had. And yes, this list comes complete with instantly rotting food, scary things in mirrors that suddenly aren't there when you look again, an asshole dad who denies anything supernatural happening, flashbacks to the less than stellar life of the now deceased troublemaker, I could go on all day. Easily most obnoxious, though, is the huge numbers of jump scares. You know how it goes, almost painfully predictable timing, and then WHAM, scare chord, something's there, then gone. Most horror movies have these, but honestly, this one uses it way, way, waaaaaay to much, there's other ways to scare people, y'know.

Then again, if only the scares were stock and uninteresting, I could manage, I've watched a lot of slashers, after all. No, pretty much every story element was more or less just ripped off, in a genre where the surprise and uncertainty is the way to play, this is not good. I usually manage to sit through movies just fine, but this one had me look at the timer a couple of times too much, as a general rule, any movie under 2 hours that makes me go «isn't this over yet» more than once have done something wrong. I'm not neccesarily saying the movie was without positive qualities, I mean, the acting wasn't bad, and there was a scare or two which wasn't all that bad, but it's hardly enough to redeem the movie to anything more than «wouldn't burn»-status.


Rudié said...

Seen District 9 yet? Any thoughts? (not horror, but it is a movie)

V said...

No go on District 9 yet. From what I've heard about the plot, well, using aliens to deliver a message about how wrong racism/segregation/discrimination is, ain't exactly cutting edge conceptwise, but it can still be a good movie for all I know. Sure, it *sounds* like the plot of a late 60's, early 70's "Weird Science" story, but hey, how good does "A man dresses up like a bat, scares criminals and battles an insane clown" sound anyway?

Rudié said...

See it(!), it's brutally realistic. It's like they took the plot from a 60s movie, changed the setting to Africa and then made it happen in the real world.