Canadian Casting by……………………………………………………………………JIM HEBER
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.
Lionsgate and Gold Circle Films Present an Integrated Films Production.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
The history of the United States is teeming with ghosts. Tales of haunted houses and legends of the malevolent dead may be found particularly among the records of New England and the Tri-State area.
In Connecticut, entire villages have disappeared as a result of hauntings. In the northwest region of the state, residents of Dudleytown were driven insane en masse after an entire generation of spirit attacks destroyed their hopes.
In 1987, a particularly nightmarish haunting occurred in Connecticut town of Southington to a family that had just moved in to a long empty house on Meriden Avenue.
Soon after settling in, the family discovered a small graveyard in back, an embalming chamber in the basement, and drawers full of eerie corpse photographs: their new house had previously been a Funeral Home dating back to the 1920s.
Almost immediately, the family began to experience paranormal activity – strange sounds, changes in temperature, the appearance of mysterious figures which were so intense and frequent it nearly destroyed them. All the while, they remained unaware that their experiences comprised one of the most extreme and convincing cases of supernatural activity ever recorded.
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The making of THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT began in 2003, when producer Daniel Farrands viewed a televised documentary about the unimaginable horrors withstood by Carmen Reed and her family. Farrands sat riveted, and once it was over, teamed up with producer Andy Trapani, and they set out to find Reed so they could speak with her firsthand. After hearing her account, Farrands, Trapani, and producer Paul Brooks were stunned. Her story was unprecedented and demanded to be told. Remarked Brooks, "The fact that all these paranormal attacks occurred in a span of months to different members of that family is incredible."
Director Peter Cornwell also found this particular story very compelling. “It only makes the things that happen to them more terrifying,” says Cornwell, “when you can genuinely relate to them as real people and not just characters in a film.”
For writers Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT was the perfect opportunity to put their life-long fascination with the supernatural to good use. Explains Metcalfe, “Our mutual interest in the occult as represented in literature, film and history really helped shape the story.” Avid students of Victorian horror and the Spiritualist movement, the writing partners skillfully wove their knowledge of the era into the script’s backstory, which features instances of horrific mutilation, séances and the macabre.
Following the release of his award-winning animated short film, “Ward 13,” director Peter Cornwell attracted considerable attention among Hollywood producers. “Peter’s short film was genuinely scary and it had so much soul,” recalls Brooks. “I thought he had a genuinely original point of view. And he agreed that HAUNTING should be rooted in reality and essentially faithful to the family’s story.”
Coincidentally, Cornwell himself was eager to explore live-action filmmaking on a feature-length scale. “In animation, you really have to see the scenes very clearly in your head before you can shoot them,” explains the director. “In live action, you collaborate with the actors, who have their own ideas. It is great collaborating and creating with the involvement of other people in the scene.”
Oscar®-nominated actress Virginia Madsen, who earned cult status among horror fans for her compelling performance in Bernard Rose’s CANDYMAN, had been looking for a script in the horror genre for about three years. But the twenty-five or more screenplays she had read mostly resorted to cheap scare tactics involving torture and excessive gore. “Then I got this script with a great story and a complex female character in Sara Campbell…and it scared me to death,” she says. Like Carmen Reed, Campbell is a strong, religious woman who struggles to hold her family together while experiencing a crisis of faith at the hands of the evil in her very own home.
While Madsen admits that she hasn’t always had satisfying experiences working with first-time directors, Cornwell’s thorough preparation and clear vision for the film won her over. “When I met Peter, it’s like we were kinda like two big kids. I love movies, I love scary movies and so does he. And I wanted to find out all about the short film that he made. So we just hit it off right away, I think, in a very childlike way. But there’s also a side of Peter that I also found to be very, very focused and very, very sure of the kind film he was going to make.”
“Virginia was truly a dream to work with,” says Cornwell. “She’s someone with amazing caliber, experience and presence.”
Amidst the dark atmosphere of the project, Madsen was protective of the young actors who play her children on screen and offered her full support to them throughout the production, earning the moniker ‘Mama V.’ Amanda Crew, who plays Sara’s niece Wendy, says “Virginia recognized that we needed her support to get through this difficult story. Like the mother in the film, she was the guiding light for us on set.”
For young actor Kyle Gallner, known primarily for his work on the series “Veronica Mars,” playing Matt Campbell was a formidable challenge. Not only was it his first lead role in a feature, but the character required considerable emotional range: Matt must grapple with a strained relationship with his mother as well as repeated visitations from his doppelganger, a charred, seemingly evil boy named Jonah. “The part was intimidating,” says Gallner, “and very intense for me. And we were only shooting a movie. It’s unimaginable to me what it must have been like for the family at that time.”
Being a teenager himself, Gallner offered his own ideas to the filmmakers so that Matt would be as authentic a character as possible. “Kyle is the one who’s sixteen,” says Cornwell, “so I was happy to get his input about how a kid of that age would react. I helped him find a way of playing the scenes so they felt real and that he could believe in. But it is truly Kyle’s talent that brings the character of Matt to life.”
Madsen, who is the mother of a thirteen-year-old, appreciated the complexities of the mother/son relationship depicted in the script. As Matt experiences increasingly terrifying visions, he grapples with how much to reveal to his mother, whom he doesn’t want to further upset. “Most films portray teens as dysfunctional, messed up and hating their parents. Teens are much more complex than that,” offers Madsen. “I found the Sara-Matt relationship to be a very truthful representation of parents and teenagers.”
Actor Elias Koteas, who plays Reverend Popescu, a priest who tries to help the Campbells, impressed Cornwell with his dedication to his work, particularly his habit of staying in character in between takes. Madsen, who had previously worked with Koteas and regards him as a truly gifted actor who delves deeply into the parts he plays, refers to him as “The Zen Man.” Reports Cornwell, “Elias brought a lot of soul to the character. He works really hard and he's really dedicated to getting the details right. He’s willing to go places that aren’t necessarily comfortable for him.”
Martin Donovan plays Peter, the well-meaning father who buckles under the financial pressure facing his family. Donovan particularly appreciated the script’s focus on character, which he found unique to the horror genre. “I raised the idea of guilt and rage with the director, since they seemed to be undercurrents of Peter’s experience,” says Donovan. “Peter is torn in a lot of directions. I have great empathy for him.”
Rounding out the principal cast is Amanda Crew, who plays Matt’s cousin Wendy. Crew was attracted to the script for its scares, and got spooked herself shooting a scene involving an ax bludgeoning a door. “By the second take, that ax got so close to my face that my heart was pounding through my chest,” Crew recalls. “That wasn’t acting. It was truly scary.”
Perhaps the most pivotal role in the film, however, is that of the house itself. Says Screenwriter Adam Simon, “The house has to be a major character, arguably THE major character. And you then are dealing with the real burden of history too, you know. For example, Hill House from The Haunting of Hill House, the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. It’s very daunting to attempt to create in that sense a haunted house. On the other hand, we had some things really going for us here which was this idea, the reality, the truth that this house had been a mortuary.”
Cornwell, working with production designer Alicia Keywan, searched extensively for the perfect location, eventually finding the ideal Victorian home in the town of Teulon, about 30 minutes outside of downtown Winnipeg, Canada. “On most productions, you're traveling around so often to different locations you don't really get very familiar with one particular place. I like the intimacy of getting to know the house as a character,” Cornwell explains.
Remarks Madsen, “The house almost had a face. It just felt scary being in it.”
Surrounded by a large piece of land, with distinctive round windows and a long classic driveway, the house doubled perfectly as a Connecticut Victorian. The basement and bedroom where Matt sleeps were constructed on a sound stage. Working with Cornwell and director of photography Adam Swica, Keywan produced 3-D models of the house so that a variety of technical sequences could be worked out before production began. Swica adopted a classic approach to shooting the film, choosing judiciously when to use handheld camera movements to create tension.
The corpses, created by award-winning FX artist Todd Masters (Emmy Award® winner, ‘Best Special Effects Make-up,’ “Six Feet Under” [2001/2002 season], Saturn Award winner, “Best Make-up FX,” Slither ) and his team at the visual effects company, MASTERSFX, were prepared a month and a half prior to the shoot. Made of silicone with complete metal armature and welded joints, each body required two-weeks to complete, from molding a life cast to the painting of hair and application of tattoos. “You can’t get a more real dead body than what we have,” says Cornwell. “You touched them and they actually felt cold and stiff.”
“The corpses looked so real with their leg hair and chewed nails that I was physically repulsed by them,” avows Madsen. “And the funny part is that they were anatomically correct. Each guy had a penis. They gave them dignity by covering that area up. But I did peek since a girl’s got to have fun!”
While Cornwell doesn’t shy away from using special effects to heighten the film’s shocks, he believes this story will have no trouble unnerving even the most experienced horror fans. “It’s terrifying to see what this family went through,” he says. “I just tried to show what happened as faithfully as possible and felt it would then be scary.”
Carmen Reed herself was stunned by the experience of watching her own story on the screen. “I was cringing in my seat I was so terrified. It brought me back to those moments when I was just sure I was going to die, that we were all going to die,” she says. “Seeing it all up there again, I don’t know how we survived it.”
But she wanted her story told. “I want people to know that this does happen,” Reed explains. “Just because people see unexplainable things or hear voices doesn’t mean they’re crazy. We have to understand we don’t have all the answers. I didn’t believe in ghosts. I didn’t believe this could happen. And I rolled my eyes at people who claimed they existed, where every creak that’s in the house is ghost. But there are times when there actually is a monster under the bed.”
ABOUT THE ACTORS
A cool, classic beauty, with a vibrant blonde mane and an exuberant flair for the dramatic, VIRGINIA MADSEN (Sara) is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and unique actresses to date. Not only did she receive amazing reviews for her Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominated performance in Alexander Payne’s hit film SIDEWAYS, but this Independent Spirit Award-winning actress has an illustrious resume of roles alongside the most notable and respected actors in the business. That list keeps growing with starring roles opposite Harrison Ford in the action thriller FIREWALL, Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in the comedic drama A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (directed by Robert Altman), Jim Carrey in New Line’s psychological thriller THE NUMBER 23 (directed by Joel Schumacher) and Billy Bob Thornton in the satirical comedy THE ASTRONAUT FARMER. Madsen has worked in Francis Ford Coppola’s THE RAINMAKER with Matt Damon; Rob Reiner’s GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI with Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg and James Woods; the cult classic CANDYMAN with Kasi Lemmons; HOT SPOT, directed by Dennis Hopper; HBO’s first feature LONG GONE and David Lynch’s DUNE. Madsen’s versatility was seen in the independent film ALMOST SALINAS, opposite John Mahoney and in AMERICAN GUN, opposite Academy Award® winner James Coburn.
Madsen is set to star alongside Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda in the off-beat comedy DIMINISHED CAPACITY from Plum Pictures and Forrest Whitaker in the upcoming existential drama THE RIPPLE EFFECT. This is just the beginning for Madsen, who grows even more glamorous and worldly with the infinite grace of a bona-fide classic Hollywood movie star.
KYLE GALLNER (Matt) is best known for his series regular role on the CW’s hit series “Veronica Mars.” Other television credits include guest star roles on “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Closer,” “Medium,” “Bones,” “Cold Case,” “Close To Home,” “Four Kings,” “Judging Amy” and “Touched By An Angel.” He has also recurred on “Smallville,” “CSI: NY,” HBO’s “Big Love” and “The Shield.”
Gallner has appeared in independent films, including RED, starring Brian Cox; GARDENS OF THE NIGHT, starring John Malkovich, and DANIKA, starring Marisa Tomei and Craig Bierko. Additional feature credits include REDEYE, starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy and WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, starring Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler.
He now resides in Los Angeles along with his family.
MARTIN DONOVAN (Peter) is well known to television audiences for playing Mary-Louise Parker’s love interest in the critically acclaimed Showtime series “Weeds.” He has also appeared in “Masters of Horror: Right to Life”for Showtime;the FX telefilm “RFK,” the Fox series “Pasadena,” “Amy and Isabelle,” “The Great Gatsby” and HBO’s “When Trumpets Fade.” He made his television series regular début in the critically acclaimed drama series “Wonderland.”
His feature film credits include: SAVED!, PIPE DREAM, JANE CAMPION’S THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY (opposite Nicole Kidman and for which he won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor), THE SENTINEL (opposite Keifer Sutherland and Michael Douglas), THE QUIET (starring Edie Falco), WIND CHILL (starring Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes), THE UNITED STATES OF LELAND (starring Kevin Spacey and Don Cheadle), INSOMNIA (directed by Chris Nolan and starring Al Pacino), AGENT CODY BANKS, THE OPPOSITE OF SEX (starring Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow), LIVING OUT LOUD (starring Elias Koteas, Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito), IN A SAVAGE LAND, ONEGIN, HEAVEN, HOLLOW REED and NADJA.
AMANDA CREW (Wendy) was born and raised in Langley, British Columbia. She has quickly garnered attention for her role on Canada’s CTV hit series “Whistler,”which won her the 2007 Leo award for Best Lead Female in a Dramatic Series.
She started a career in acting only a few years ago in 2003 when she was cast as a series regular for two seasons on Canada’s YTV series “15/Love.” Her television appearances also include: recurring roles on “Life As We Know It,” “Smallville” and leading roles in the movies of the week “Meltdown” and “Genesis Code.” She also appeared in a commercial for Coca-Cola.
Feature films include: FINAL DESTINATION 3, SHE’S THE MAN(starring Amanda Bynes), THAT ONE NIGHT, JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE, SEX DRIVE and THE BREAK-UP ARTIST. In addition, she also appeared in the short film DEAR SARA, SINCERELY PATTY.
ELIAS KOTEAS (Reverend Popescu) has had a very successful acting career and has worked with a range of talented directors in highly acclaimed feature films and television projects. Movie credits include THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; GARDENS ON STONE and TUCKER (both of which were directed by Francis Ford Coppola), FULL MOON IN BLUE WATER, MALAREK, for which he won the first of two Genie nominations (Canada’s Oscar) for Best Actor; CRASH (directed by David Cronenberg and winner of a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival), HIT ME (directed by Steven Shainberg), GATTACA, starring Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law; FALLEN, directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Denzel Washington; APT PUPIL, directed by Bryan Singer; LIVING OUT LOUD, starring Martin Donovan, Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito; the Academy Award®-nominated THE THIN RED LINE,directed by Terrence Malick; NOVOCAINE, starring Steve Martin and Helena Bonham-Carter; HARRISON’S FLOWERS, starring Andie MacDowell and Adrien Brody, THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED, directed by Bill Paxton; COLLATERAL DAMAGE, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Leguizamo; S1M0NE, starring Al Pacino and Winona Ryder, POWER OF ATTORNEY, THE PROPHECY, starring Virginia Madsen, Christopher Walken and Viggo Mortensen; LOST SOULS, starring Winona Ryder; CAMILLA, LOOK WHO’S TALKING TOO, starring John Travolta and Kristie Alley, ALMOST AN ANGEL, DESPARATE HOURS, starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, CRAZY HORSE and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. Other feature film credits include his work in Atom Egoyan’s THE ADJUSTER, EXOTICA and ARARAT, for which he garnered the Genie Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He has also appeared in ZODIAC, directed by David Fincher and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo; SHOOTER, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Mark Wahlberg; SKINWALKERS, DARK STREETS and PRISONER. Upcoming projects include: THE GIRL IN THE PARK, directed by David Auburn and starring Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth; I COME WITH THE RAIN, starring Josh Hartnett, and THE 4TH KIND, starring Milla Jovovich.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
PETER CORNWELL (Directed by) makes his feature film directional debut with THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT. Cornwell garnered international renown for his award winning animated short WARD 13. Among the film’s accolades are: Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize (Federation of International Film Critics) at the Valladolid International Film Festival, Winner of Best Animation at the Tirana International Film Festival in, the Audience Award for Best Short at the San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, and Best Animated Film at the Lexus IF Awards. In addition, WARD 13 qualified as an Academy Award® Semi-Finalist for Animated Short Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
ADAM SIMON (Written by) is a veteran of the Roger Corman film factory where he wrote and directed cult favorites BRAIN DEAD and CARNOSAUR. His three award-winning plays for Tim Robbins’ and The Actors Gang have been staged in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York’s Public Theater and the Edinburgh Festival. He has worked as a screenwriter and rewriter for Oliver Stone, John Landis, James Cameron and Peter Guber, among many others.
He has also made two award winning television documentaries: “The Typewriter, The Rifle & The Movie Camera”on maverick director Sam Fuller; and “The American Nightmare” on the traumatic North American Horror films of the late sixties and early seventies.
Recently he adapted David Mack’s series of graphic novels Kabuki for Fox Searchlight Films, and Kaye Gibbons’ novel Sights Unseen. He’s currently overseeing the project of adapting all seven of Charles Williams’ classic novels of supernatural horror, starting with his masterpiece, All Hallow’s Eve. He and Tim Metcalfe also co-wrote BONES, which was produced by New Line Cinema. Simon and Metcalfe have also created miniseries and pilots for HBO, Showtime and USA networks and Sony television.
TIM METCALFE (Written by)was born in Cincinnati. He attended the University of Cincinnati and California Institute of the Arts.
In 1982 he sold REVENGE OF THE NERDS, his first screenplay (with a partner), to Interscope Pictures. NERDS went on to become a successful series of films for 20th Century Fox, and is now being developed as a Broadway musical. He and his then partner continued to specialize in low budget youth oriented fare, among them Charlie Sheen’s THREE FOR THE ROAD.
In 1987 Metcalfe turned to solo screenwriting and wrote for, among other producers, Steven Spielberg, Norman Lear and Oliver Stone. For Stone he wrote IRON MAZE, starring Bridget Fonda and Jeff Fahey, which won the best screenplay award at the 1991 Tokyo International Film Festival.
In 1993, Propaganda produced Metcalfe’s screenplay KALIFORNIA, which he co-wrote with childhood friend Stephen Levy and starred Brad Pitt and David Duchovny.
KILLER: A JOURNAL OF MURDER marked Metcalfe’s directing debut in 1996. It was produced by Oliver Stone, and starred James Woods, who won the Best Actor award at the Sitges International Film Festival. He won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Actor as well.
In 2001 Metcalfe co-authored, with partner Adam Simon, the horror film BONES, starring Snoop Dogg and Pam Grier.
For television, he co-authored “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” and wrote the highest rated TV movie in the FX Channel’s history, 44 MINUTES: THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT. Also he was a staff writer-producer on the critically acclaimed Showtime series “Street Time,” starring Rob Morrow.
In 2008 he is set to direct his adaptation of the memoir This Dark World, starring the actress Vera Farmiga. Metcalfe is married, with two children, and has recently moved to rural Vermont.