Daily Archives: July 3, 2021

Cinema Saturday, 7/3

The Haunting in Connecticut

Year: 2009
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Peter Cornwell

Writers: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe

Stars: Virginia Madsen, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas

Initial: Why was this movie even on my random TBW list? Was it Virginia Madsen? Was it the séances? It was probably the séances.

Production Notes: The true story on which The Haunting in Connecticut is “based” is connected to Ed and Lorraine Warren. One imagines that if this movie had been made 4–5 years later it would be part of The Conjuring-verse.

What Did I Think:
Some movies are a slog to get through. I watched this one over the course of three dinners, about a half hour at a time. If you’ve never seen a horror movie, The Haunting in Connecticut might be clever and effective. But probably still slightly confusing because some of the choices characters make no kind of sense. Do you really decide to move into a house with an entire half of the basement behind a stuck door? Does any kid really decide to hide in the rusty dumbwaiter? Plus, there is just too much: necromancers and spiritualists, hallucination inducing medical treatments and a semi-estranged alcoholic father who decides that breaking every light bulb in the house is appropriate punishment for leaving the lights on. Verily, I have gained more appreciation for the focus and efficiency of Poltergeist (1982).


Aliens

Year: 1986
Runtime: 2h17min
Rated: R

Director: James Cameron

Writers: James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen

Initial: Sometimes you just have to rewatch a favorite.

Production Notes: It’s only been nine months since I last watched this movie. I had thought that I’d mentioned it at the time, but it was in the middle of my September horror movie A to Z.

What Did I Think:
James Cameron does two things well in Aliens.

One, he presents a really good sequel. He starts off with enough nods to Ridley Scott’s original before pivoting the whole story into a different genre. This takes time and Cameron takes the time.

Second, he’s good at information management. In action movies, it’s actually really important to know where characters are going and why they are going there. The audience should have some expectation of what’s supposed to be happening so that when things go wrong, we understand the gravity of the situation. The characters in Aliens spend a lot of time looking at maps and explaining to each other what’s going on. Cameron and his co-writers make those explanations work because the characters are either part of a command structure where information is passed down the chain or the characters are trouble-shooting. “Can we do this thing?” “No, we’ll become alien fodder.” “What about this?” “Sure, be we’ll have to go there.” These exchanges take time too, but the movie never lags.

I haven’t seen The Abyss or True Lies in a while, but this might be my favorite James Cameron movie.