I used to absolutely love haunted house movies. They would always entertain me and also scare the pants off me at the same time. The Amityville Horror (both versions), The Changeling, The Legend Of Hell House and The Haunting (1963) are a few of my favourites. Yet the tide of my opinion has been turning over the past 5-10 years. I think the fact that so many of them nowadays are labelled "based on a true story" or "based on the horrifying truth" or "based on the book based on the facts told to the neighbour by some previous owners" has turned me against them. Because, it seems, the more that they purport to be based on fact the easier it is to spot how false it all feels.
Here are a few common factors to spot in any modern haunted house movie "based on a true story" - the family is already under some kind of stress (emotional or financial), someone always helps them when things get a lot worse and, coincidentally, when the family unit is weakened. Kids are usually at the epicentre of events (this is often explained away by the fact that puberty and raging hormones encourages supernatural activity or some other hogwash). And, of course, most of the facts are based on testimonies as opposed to any actual, ummmm, evidence.
Like Mulder, I still want to believe. It's just getting harder and harder to remain a wannabe believer.
This movie doesn't help.Written by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, and directed by Peter Cornwell, it checks off all of the factors just mentioned and then puts them together to create something dull, unscary, predictable and borderline incompetent (just count the amount of "jump" scares that don't work because of the way that the camera moves and/or scene blocking indicate what's about to occur).
It's a shame because this movie wastes a damn good cast. Virginia Madsen is always someone I enjoy watching onscreen (and sorry to be so shallow but is she getting even finer in her 50s??) while Martin Donovan is solid enough. They play the parents to a cancer-stricken young man played by the excellent Kyle Gallner. Amanda Crew is an acceptable young actress and then we have a supporting turn from the superb Elias Koteas. They're all left floundering.
The poor script isn't laughably bad but it's just dull and seems to be two steps behind the viewer. The CGI is sometimes okay but usually overdone and distractingly fake. The direction is awful. The only fact that rings true by the time the end credits roll is that you shouldn't waste your time on this.