The Damned Story: As you may have heard, the film The Haunting in Connecticut is due in theaters on March 27, 2009. "Based on true events" (Hollywood-talk for "our version isn't a faithful chronicle of actual events, but one that we've take dramatic liberties with to try and make scarier"), it stars Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Amanda Crew and Elias Koteas.
According to the movie's promotional site:
Based on a chilling true story, Lionsgate's THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT charts one family's terrifying, real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner's clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover.
Now, unspeakable terror awaits when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the dead, returns to unleash a new kind of horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family.
So what "true story" is this movie based on?
Well, the undeniable factual part of the story is that in 1986, the Snedeker family bought a house in Southington, the basement of which had been used as a mortuary. From there, the "truth" gets a bit murky.
After the Snedekers moved in, two of their sons decided to make the basement their room -- and that's when the weirdness allegedly started. One of the the boys -- whom the Snedekers said was being treated at Yale in New Haven for cancer -- reported seeing the shadow of a man in the space that had been the mortuary as well as other apparitions in the room. Lights then began to go on and off by themselves, inanimate objects started to move around on their own, foul odors were encountered, unseen forces physically assaulted the family and eventually, the son became possessed by demonic spirits.
Not surprisingly, it was only a matter of time before demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to investigate the "supernatural" happenings. Being Ed and Lorraine Warren, they decided immediately the house did, in fact, have an evil presence and moved in for nine weeks to investigate. The otherworldly forces persisted until a priest was finally brought in to perform an exorcism, which apparently cleansed the boy and home. The family stayed there for two and a half years before moving out.
As it turns out, some of the Snedekers' claims have not held up well, the most critical of which was that their son was receiving treatment for cancer -- it has been speculated that he may have actually been struggling with drug addiction, which would explain much of the "unexplained events" and stories of possessions. There are also some who think that the drugs he was taking for the cancer treatment may have caused the hallucinations. (Note: Since this post was originally published, a person claiming to be a family member has contacted Damned Connecticut to say that he did in fact have cancer.)
For what it's worth, neighbors never reported observing or hearing of any unusual occurrences.
Most of those who have subsequently lived in the house and others involved have also gone on record saying that there's absolutely nothing supernatural about the place; a few others have suggested that odd things have happened in the dwelling, but nothing anywhere near to the extent of the Snedekers' assertions. (Note: Since this post was written, the current owners of the house have said that they think "all the stories are ludicrous.")
A Haunting in Connecticut is a 2002 documentary based on these alleged events; it has been shown in various places, including the Discovery Channel. A book has also been written -- In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting by horror writer Ray Garton, which was created in conjunction with the Warrens and Snedekers. For the record, Garton has publicly distanced himself from this "non-fiction" book, suggesting that the Snedekers were dealing with "drug and alcohol issues" and that no one involved could "keep their stories straight." (Note: Check out the Damned Connecticut interview with Ray Garton, who talks about the entire situation in detail.)
Our Damned Experience: The film itself looks like standard horror film fare, with all sorts of terror-inducing scares and starts, and lots of creepy effects. We plan on seeing it theatrically as part of "work" for this site -- we're willing to put forth that damned effort for you people!
And going the extra mile (or 20), we drove out to Southington in late February of 2009 to see the the real house where all the events are alleged to happen.
Not surprisingly, the house looks dramatically less threatening than the stories would lead you to believe.
The day we went by, it looked like any other house that you're going to see in any suburban Connecticut neighborhood -- well maintained, minivan in the driveway, basketball hoop out back, etc. Unless you tend to think completely normal is evil (which some of us do, by the way), it couldn't be more unassuming.
If You Go: Out of respect for the privacy of the family who lives there now, we will not list the exact address here -- but we're sure you can find it fairly easily.
We will, however, say it is located on a main thoroughfare, so you're always to welcome to drive past (if you haven't already). Just keep in mind that it is a private residence, so you are NOT allowed to trespass or harass the people who currently live there, under any circumstances.