Horror sequels are part and parcel of the business, and over recent years they have arrived as regular as clockwork, more often than not, scary for all the wrong reasons. However an unexpected horror sequel is about to be unleashed upon audiences: The Haunting in Connecticut 2. While the film falls into familiar horror sequel quality issues, it also surprises with its humanity and gripping mystery.

Based on a true story, the film revolves around the young Wyrick family, who upon moving into a historically important and idyllic Georgia home, begin to experience strange occurrences linked to the tragic and grisly past that haunts the house, one that has set its sights on the family. Only little Heidi Wyrick, her mother Lisa and Aunt Joyce hold the key to exorcising the demons of the past…and save the family from a dark and deadly fate.

The narrative of The Haunting in Connecticut 2 at first is standard horror fare, and unfortunately fires with a scattergun accuracy in an attempt to create an interesting, character driven opening. Plot points, cheap scares and moments of humour are constantly thrown at the viewer in an attempt to push the film forward and define its identity. However, while the film starts inauspiciously, the narrative does begin to click into place once the family move out from their house and into the surrounding land, discovering in the process more about the history of the house, linked to secret passage of slaves seeking freedom. Adding such politically complex cultural history seems like a risky strategy, but rather it allows a space for the horror to take root, and truly sets up a compelling mystery, where previously visions and ghostly scares appeared directionless and tame. More impressively even than establishing a compelling mystery, this narrative development also brings the theme of family, and more specifically family legacy, into starker clarity; contrasting the fear of descendent over the past of an ancestor, with the fear of a mother over the legacy of family “gift” that has afflicted her, and has now emerged within her young daughter. This is one of the strongest elements of the film, and it is a testament to the filmmakers and performers (especially Abigail Spencer in the lead role of Lisa Wyrick) that it is expressed in a mature and emotionally affective manner both amplifies the depth of the family, and the power of the horror that emerges as the mystery is unravelled.

Visually, The Haunting in Connecticut 2 appears as a slice of sub-American Gothic; a soft, True Blood influenced blend of earthy tones and creeping physicality. There is a defining tension between the gentle pastoral, reflecting the joy of the family, and the bursts of darkness, expressed with shifting light tones and heightened colours of red, black, brown and yellow, creates an imbalanced visual palette, that at times works to create a natural look full of hidden threat at its best, and simply murky and disjointed at worst.

Perhaps the crucial strength of the film can be found in the depiction of the Wyrick family. Often in modern horror, the central characters created are far too disposable; either one dimensional, dismal or dislikeable, making it difficult to relate to them…but far less troubling to enjoy being chased and tormented (a hangover from the slasher film one could argue). However, each member of the Wyrick family is distinctive and played with warmth that makes them realistic and watchable. Of course, I’m not saying they don’t creep into classic clichés and character forms (the troubled mother, the devoted father, the carefree aunt…and the child who sees dead people), but in the subtle moments together, you can feel the harmony of a family there, one that makes the events that befall them more troubling as result. When the finale kicks in, the mystery build up and the tenderness of the family enhances a slick and particularly cruel conclusion that is measured, brooding and satisfying. It plays like a particularly mean spirited episode of Scooby Doo…where the mystery leads to a darker truths and not a man in a mask, but a real monster.

By all means, The Haunting in Connecticut 2 is no classic, and suffers from an opening third that lacks drive and purpose. However, as the film builds and the mysteries deepen, a surprising and solid horror film emerges. The Haunting in Connecticut 2 is an effective supernatural chiller, which balances the expected jump scares with a sense of honesty and tenderness towards the depiction of the family at the film’s core, and is intensified by a harrowing mystery that organically develops, culminating in a fantastic finale that builds with menacing intent.

EXTRAS: Featurette, outtakes, deleted scenes

VERDICT: [rating=3]

Released on DVD/Blu-Ray on March 3

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk