Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)

Let's take a moment to pause here and consider the following: The name of this movie is "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia." Let that sink in. Go back over it again if you need to, because it might take a second read to register on the basis of the human brain not normally being capable of processing something that catastrophically stupid on the first go-around. If it's helpful I'll inform you that at no point does the film travel to Connecticut, so if you were giving it the benefit of the doubt, you can just go ahead and stop.

Has it sunk it yet how abyssally low one's expectations should be for this film based on the title alone? I mean, there's dumb and then there's something of this caliber. And while the old adage suggests that we shouldn't, I will posit that judging a book by its cover, or in this case a movie and its title, can occasionally be very informative. If they called it something that mind-bendingly dense, what kind of effort could have really been put forward here? You can call making assumptions in poor taste, but I'm telling you that any film that is so transparent in its effort to tie itself in with a movie that has nothing to do with it, so much so that even the name doesn't make any damn sense, does not care one bit about anything that it's doing. And that's assuming that people actually remember the first movie anyway, which they don't.

Quick recap: It sucked.

"Ghosts of Georgia" is about a family who moves into an old creepy house in the middle of nowhere in Georgia. The mother, Lisa (Abigail Spencer), is a medium who hates the fact that she's a medium, and keeps her visions under control with the help of medication. This keeps her in a state of being perpetually kind of tweaked-out, since we often see her while she's coming down off of the meds, a process which leaves her feeling terrible and also provides the movie most of its opportunities to cram in a jump scare as the ghosts and orchestra stings start showing up.

This runs in her family, as Lisa's mother had it (and apparently killed herself over it), as does her sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff). And now her young daughter, Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind), is also beginning to show psychic powers, which make themselves readily apparent when she starts talking to "Mr. Gordy," a creepy looking ghost who was the former resident of the house they now live in. And since the house also functioned as a way-station for the Underground Railroad way back in the day, complete with some nefarious goings-on, there's plenty of ghosts to go around and scare the bajesus out of the ladies.

"Excuse me. Can I borrow a cup of face?"

I'm actually kind of on board with the idea of the plot. I like the idea of a psychic being tormented by their visions and making themselves a pill junky just to make it all stop, and her watching her daughter begin the process herself does make for interesting drama. However, in a disturbingly popular trend in ghost movies, "Ghosts of Georgia" falls victim to two things that make it not necessarily bad per se, since I admit that I've seen far worse in the realms of horror, but still dull and ultimately pointless.

The first problem is that nearly every scare in this film is a jump scare accompanied by an orchestra sting. There are occasions where that tactic can work, but it's best when it's used exceedingly rarely, and it's the exceedingly rare horror film that adheres to that, which this one is not. To the film's credit they do have a couple scares that are left subtle and quiet, which are some of the scarier moments in the film, but at no point does "Ghosts of Georgia" come across any more scary than any other random, tame horror flick made to scare high school girls since they would jump at a Pop Tart coming out of a toaster.

The second problem that is baffling to me as to why it's so common is the fact that the ghosts really don't pose much of a threat to the characters. Or at least in this film, the extent of their powers is left really vague and inconsistent. For instance, despite there being a lot of ghosts around the house, there's only one bad one. And while most of what he does is just kind of stand there and look menacing, when he does (finally) do something that directly harms a person, the effect is short-lived and almost immediately reversed. So when he's got a blade to Lisa's neck later, why should I be afraid? Is it in her head? Can he actually hurt her? It didn't seem to be particularly lethal when he was performing otherworldly taxidermy on Katee Sackhoff, which would seem to me to be quite fatal. So what's the deal? He doesn't seem very dangerous when it all boils down to it, an observation made more troublesome when you take into account this film's bodycount, which is exactly zero.

Oh come on, Katee. Stop screwing around and walk it off. You're fine.

That's right. "Ghosts of Georgia" boasts a death tally of nothing. Nobody dies in this film. This is a horror movie where everyone who wasn't already a ghost sees the end credits. I'm not quite sure how that qualifies as horror, but then again they are slightly shackled to the fact that is is "Based on a True Story," an absurd claim that I'm sure only extends to the fact that it's true that at one time a family moved down to Georgia, and slavery used to be a thing. Past that I doubt that a lady did battle with an evil spirit before calling on other ghosts to attack it in a spooky tornado.

I have reservations as to the voracity of these claims.

I also can't get behind any movie where it's the good ghosts doing most of the scaring. Perhaps I'm begin naive, which makes sense because I am not in fact a ghost, but if I were and I was trying to get a psychic to help me, maybe looming over them in the middle of the night and appearing out of nowhere to make them crap themselves in fear wouldn't be the best way to convey my message. Maybe if they smiled once instead of always have their "I'm going to skin you" face on, their cause would be advanced. Of course then the film would lose about 80% of its scares, and we can't have that now can we? So sure, go ahead. Make the good ghosts out to be villains even though they're not doing anything bad. I don't even care.

I suppose in the end it was still better than its predecessor. Not by a whole lot though, and I'm sure within another two days I'll be struggling to remember anything about it since I was forgetting it while I was watching. On the other didn't have Pauly Shore. I suppose that's a point in its favor?

Oh look. A horror movie trailer. I do wonder if it will be obnoxious and give away most of the scares.

THE BOTTOM LINE - A bland horror film that doesn't do much to invest you in anything that's going on since it's predictable and not very scary with the exception of one or two decent scenes. Watching "The Conjuring" would be a far more effective use of one's time if one wanted to see a horror movie.

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