I just watched The Haunting in Connecticut - or as I like to call it, Amityville - 2009. Yes, allegedly, this ghost story is based on a true event, and yes certain dubious experts were involved in the initial investigation of said events that said film is based upon, and yes, one of the principles of the story (played by Virgina Madsen in the film) now, offers psychic advice to the
But, I am not here to bury this admittedly stupid movie, others with much more skill at film criticism have done it already. However, I do want to look at the truly horrific elements of the tale - many of these horrors I have come to face to face with, and let me tell you, they are a million times more frightening than a houseful of vengeful spirits.* Having seen three family members face a cancer diagnosis and treatments during the past two years, I know what it is like to watch them suffer - to watch them deal with the terror of such a horrid reality, to have to maneuver the medical mine fields and the red tape, and the myriad of specialists; and then see them return home and know that when they are alone in the dark, they must face the reality of their own mortality . I know what it is like to feel your heart breaking for a loved one going through this - and watching Virgina Madsen's take as a mother coping with her son's cancer treatments rung very true.*Having once dated (and lived with) a functioning alcoholic, I know what it is like when they fall off the wagon and go on a bender. Nobody who drinks to excess becomes Foster Brooks or even Dean Martin, far from it; they usually turn into loud, irrational morons - and watching Martin Donovon's turn as the frantic, drunken father figure who goes ballistic when he finds too many lights on in the house one night seemed so true to life, that it actually gave me pause. I've seen that behavior in real life, and it's pretty damn frightening.*As a social worker, I know what it is like to assist the less fortunate through the maze of a bureaucracy. It might be a Medicaid application, a Social Security hearing, or possibly qualifying for rental assistance. When I saw the scene in A Haunting... where the mother mentions that just one of her son's pain pills costs 25.00. Or later on, when the father sells his car and picks up a junker because he needs extra money to pay for his son's treatments, I shivered. Just last week I was trying to help one of my clients in getting assistance to pay his medical bills ... do you have any idea how terrifying it is to need medication, and not be able to afford it? Though it's only mentioned briefly in the film, it's another one of the truly bone chilling moments in it.When I was through watching The Haunting..., I thought that it could have been so much more had it focused on the real horror, and perhaps made the house some sort of subtle metaphor for what a family facing such terrible odds goes through. Oh well, maybe next time.