Billed as being "based on the true story," the sort-of spooky, sort-of stupid "The Haunting in Connecticut" follows a family who move into a rental home to put their cancer-stricken son closer to the clinic where he is receiv- ing experimental treatments. Caught between economic realities and difficult emotional truths, they stay put even after discovering that their new house was once a funeral home also used for rituals to speak with the dead.
Part of what makes "Connecticut" oddly watchable even as it drags is the oil-and-water mix of acting styles of the leads. Virginia Madsen's refined naturalism is an awkward fit with the sharp mannerisms of Martin Donovan, making them, as parents of the sick boy, unlikely scene partners and an even less likely married couple. As a cancer patient/reverend, only the creepy, chilly Elias Koteas -- who previously costarred with Madsen in the near-great B-movie "The Prophecy" -- finds a tone that works. The less said about wooden Kyle Gallner as the sick son, the better.
The film, from first-time feature director Peter Cornwell, seems most at ease when it is playing more like a domestic drama than a horror tale, with the rather unsettling implication early on that what is happening may be a hallucinatory side effect of the boy's trial cancer treatments. But "Haunting" suffers for its need to be sold as a straight-up horror film, and the fact it has been seemingly retrofitted as such. Cornwell never sees a mirror's reflection that doesn't deserve a shadowy figure in its background, or a dark corner that couldn't produce a moment of predictable shock.