Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
I hope you’re sitting down, readers, because I have some bad news. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia does not take place in Connecticut at all. Nor is it about ghosts named Georgia. It takes place in the state of Georgia, which is often called the “Connecticut of the south,” I think. The good news is that this will inevitably lead to a 50+ film franchise covering all of the states and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. QVC could even sell a giant, collector’s map of the U.S., like they did when the state quarters came out. That way fans could display their entire collection of The Haunting in Connecticut films, like Ghosts of North Dakota, which is often called the “Connecticut of the Dakotas,” I think. Unfortunately, the idea of this many Haunting films is scarier than anything you’ll find in Ghosts of Georgia.
The film is based on the true story of the Wyrick family, whose young daughter Heidi allegedly began seeing ghosts back in the late ‘80s. It all started when parents Lisa and Andy moved the family to a small house in rural GA. Shortly after, Heidi started seeing an elderly apparition she called “Gordy.” The parents shrugged it off as an imaginary friend until Heidi reported seeing another ghost. This second spirit was named “Con” and not as friendly as Gordy. She claimed Con was trying to kidnap her and when her folks did some investigative work on their new home, they found that it once belonged to a James Grody and Lon “Con” Batchelor – both men long since dead.
The film dramatizes these events and throws in a story about the Underground Railroad and an evil taxidermist. They also make the mother, played by Abigail Spencer (Mad Men), a medium struggling with her sixth sense. The ghost of her mother constantly haunts Lisa and she takes anti-psychotic pills to keep the visions at bay. When they move to the house in GA, Lisa’s literally bombarded with supernatural visions, so at first it seems like the movie is going to be all about her. Then it gradually shifts so that the daughter Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) is the center of ghostly attention. Meanwhile, the dad Andy (Chad Michael Murray) is just trying to get the damn yard work done.
Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) plays Joyce, Lisa’s older sister who moves into a trailer on the Wyrick’s property. She’s a medium too, but the ghosts don’t really seem that interested in her. When I say Lisa and Heidi are “bombarded” with visions, I’m not playing around. There are more jump scares in Ghosts of Georgia than I think I’ve ever seen in any horror film ever. They’re absolutely relentless. The tool is cheap to begin with, so the barrage of them in this film screams laziness and lack of artistry on the filmmakers’ part. Not even the naturally creepy atmosphere of GA’s deep, murky woods is utilized very well.
Speaking of “tool,” when did ghosts all look like extras in a Tool video? So many apparitions in Hollywood horror films nowadays are monochrome and move in a jittery-spastic manner. I first remember seeing a ghost like that in 1999’s House on Haunted Hill and it’s been like an epidemic ever since.
The cast does the best they can with the script, which must have been littered everywhere with “jump scare” notes. Katee Sackhoff, who’s been doing a lot of voice work since BSG ended, is the definite highlight. She’s just naturally magnetic and brings some much-needed intensity to even the quieter scenes in the film. Chad Michael Murray is great at looking confused all of the time and Abigail Spencer is perfectly fine in a role that doesn’t require much more than acting scared and concerned.
This is Tom Elkins first film as a director. He’s got an impressive lineup of editing credits under his belt (Wanted, The Da Vinci Code, and the first Haunting in Connecticut), but it feels like he struggled here to balance the formulaic story and the scares. When the film starts to delve into the history of the Wyrick home, it starts to fumble the spooky bits. And when it’s simply barraging its audience with jump scares, who really gives a shit about a convoluted story about a taxidermist and some slaves that went missing on his property anyway.
People who actually dug the film can revel in this nicely packaged Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
Ghosts of Georgia is presented in 1080p in 2.39:1 with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The high definition presentation looks better than average, with lots of strong contrast and detail. The lossless audio track is nicely immersive, especially during scenes in the woods.
Audio Commentary with Director Tom Elkins, Writer David Coogeshall, and Co-Producer Brad Kessell: I feel bad being so harsh on the film because after listening to the commentary track, it’s clear that these three men believe they made a masterpiece. It’s like they’re watching a different movie.
“Seeing Ghosts: The True Story of the Wyricks”: This 10-minute feature looks at the real Wyrick family and their experiences in GA. They’re a sincere buncha people and I feel bad their legacy will forever be attached to this lousy flick.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary: This is nearly 20 minutes of alternate scenes. 20 MINUTES!
Bloopers: Katee Sackhoff seems drunk all of the time.
Trailers for part one and two.