Movie Review: "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia"
Rating: R (some disturbing horror content)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: Mar. 14, 2013
Directed by: Tom Elkins
Stars: 2.5 out of 5
Buyers should beware when it comes to real estate-if the price is too good to be true, there is likely something seriously wrong with the house. In most cases, it would be a collapsing foundation or a leaky roof that would merit the ultra-low price. The family at the center of "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" can only wish that the problem with their house was as mundane as a leaky roof. Instead, they have to deal with a wide variety of paranormal activities that may send one of more people in the house to the brink of insanity.
The family in question is the Wyricks, headed up by Andy (Chad Michael Murray), an Atlanta corrections officer whose wife Lisa (Abigail Spencer) claims to be seeing and hearing things. Thinking that a change of pace and scenery is needed, Andy looks for a house out in the suburbs to try and escape the city. He finds an old plantation home on several acres for a steal, and soon he has Lisa and young daughter Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) headed to the house, which is out in the middle of nowhere in rural Georgia.
Soon, Lisa's kooky sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) joins the family to check out the new digs and stay for a while. All seems fine, until Heidi begins having some of the same blurry visions that her mother was having in Atlanta. Soon mother and daughter begin having the same visions at the same time, which can't possibly be a coincidence. Poor Andy thinks his whole family has gone mad, until he begins hearing things that can't possibly happen, like a piano playing in an empty room. Soon, they find out about the history of the house, which goes all the way back to the Civil War. The back story is an interesting one that explains why strange, spooky occurrences are happening. The family has sunk every penny they have into the house, so they have to choose between being homeless or finding a way to exorcize the ghosts so they can live peacefully.
Once the script from David Coggeshall establishes the story behind the house's ghostly inhabitants, the frights begin to come at a breakneck pace. The viewers will barely be done jumping out of their seats before the next fright sets in. Coggeshall seems to think that more is better, which works really well for this type of film. He also wrote in a nice amount of comic relief in the form of Sackhoff's character, who is slightly ditzy and has no self-awareness about how crazy she sometimes sounds. It is a welcome respite from the many chills that the screenwriter serves up in the second and third acts.
Director Tom Elkins has spent most of his career as an editor, but he makes his directorial debut with this film. Editors work very closely with directors for hours a day, and it is clear that Elkins was paying attention to the directors he has worked with. He shows a clear understanding of what makes a horror film work, especially when it comes to scaring people. He wisely chose to forego extensive computer-generated effects in favor of old-fashioned ones, which fit in perfectly with the rural, historical setting. The estimated budget for the film was just $9 million, which doesn't leave much money for special effects. The decision to use basic effects may have been done for budgetary reasons, but it doesn't take away from the film. In fact, it enhances it and makes the scary scenes that much more chilling.
Though the title of this film makes it seem as if it is a sequel to the original "The Haunting in Connecticut," the two films actually don't have any real ties to them, other than the fact that they both have ghosts in them. Not only is this film in an entirely different location but it is also with a new set of characters. This bodes well for people who have yet to see the first film, because it is a standalone movie that doesn't require viewing of the original in order to understand what is going on. With a third film already given the green light by the production company, "The Haunting in Connecticut" is set to become a full franchise of films that only have ghosts in common. If each subsequent film in this burgeoning series has as many frights and chills as the first two, it should be a successful franchise for years to come.