rating: 22009's The Haunting In Connecticut was a largely forgettable horror yarn that quickly came and went, disappearing into the home video void, a fate which the series - yes, it's a series now, with a third film already in the works - is seemingly unable to escape with this straight-to-video "sequel", Ghosts of Georgia. Set 6 years after the events of the first film - but having absolutely no relation to those events nor even stepping one foot in Connecticut (the entire film is set in Georgia) - this sequel concerns itself with a hapless couple, Lisa (Abigail Spencer) and Andy Wyrick (Chad Michael Murray), who move into a new home with their daughter Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind), only to soon enough find themselves being haunted by a presence rising from beneath the foundations of the home. To be fair to first-time director Tom Elkins, he at least starts off this rote supernatural horror with a bang rather than making us sit through half an hour of preambles; we see ghosts haunting Lisa, who along with her sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff), appears to have an inherent, hereditary sensitivity to the supernatural, something Lisa is worried will transpire through to her daughter which, of course, it does.
Despite dispensing ably with the expected patronising slow-burn, there's no sliver of mood or atmosphere to be found in this film; from characters having bizarre hallucinations, to the stock creepy child character and abundance of shadowy figures, it's all so painfully rote. Though this sequel doesn't begin to plumb the depths of the genre's worst efforts, its worst offence is that it fails to ever once get the pulse racing; it's utterly predictable and shockingly straight-forward. There's no intrigue; Elkins simply uses the same technique as a crutch over and over again; a supernatural figure appears, frightens one of the leads, and a bombastic tension chord rings out to remind us that we're supposed to be scared. The film's one truly intriguing revelation - that the property was a former haven for black slaves - is mostly wasted, as things grind to a halt when, of course, it turns out that nobody believes the creepy sights Lisa is seeing because of her prior mental issues, while we as the audience assume we have seen the ghostly happenings with a clear objectivity.
The logic of the film never asserts that what we're seeing might not be real, but the characters run around in circles postulating it anyway, wasting plenty of screen time on people not believing Lisa. It's not just obvious, it's boring, and when the characters profess at the end of act two that they've beaten the curse, all we can do is laugh. Even in its final stretch, the bloodless sterility of it all compounds the already stuffy atmosphere, and even the intermittent grotesqueries at the climax are ruined by obvious CGI alongside an overabundance of frenzied editing. It all trundles towards a tenuously comprehensible ending that, above all else, you simply won't care about. On the plus side, the acting is surprisingly competent; Katee Sackhoff, who is absolutely slumming it here after memorable gigs on Battlestar Galactica and 24, is the best of show as Lisa's outgoing trailer trash sister, while Chad Michael Murray, best known for his work on vapid teen drama series One Tree Hill, is probably stepping his game up here in a solid turn. In fact, there's not a bad performance among the bunch; lead Abigal Spencer might not be particularly memorable, but she looks the part and emotes appropriately, while as her daughter, Emily Alyn Lind is an effortlessly cute kid with a southern drawl to boot. Credibly acted and hardly much worse than the original, but just as bereft of atmosphere and by-the-numbers. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia is on a limited run in US cinemas and available on VOD now.
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