SEPTEMBER 28, 2010
Well, if the folks behind the feature version of A Haunting In Georgia can’t improve on it, then they are the worst filmmakers in the world, because this is one of the dullest “haunting” stories I’ve ever seen dramatized. I felt that the feature of A Haunting In Connecticut was an improvement, but at least that one had an interesting ghost story at its center and a few scares, plus the family’s actions were believable. Not the case here.
For starters, why don’t they just move away? It’s a question I would ask even if this was a flat out fictional story, but at least there we can chalk it up to “good drama”. But here it just makes no sense. We eventually learn that an earthquake created some magnetic fields, which are interrupting with the little girl’s brain function and causing her to see the ghosts – so why not just move away, somewhere, you know, NOT on a fault line (which is a good idea whether you are seeing ghosts or not). Granted it’s a combination of several factors, which means she’d probably still see ghosts no matter where they go, but they could at least cut down on the number of sightings if they weren’t in a hot spot. It’s like, maybe you love sweets, but you certainly don’t eat an entire bag of candy if there’s a history of diabetes in the family.
The one nice thing is that we can almost guarantee that Discovery didn’t embellish anything to make it more exciting (at least, I hope – if this IS the “exciting” version, the real story must be coma-inducing). Apart from their boneheaded decision not to move away, I believed everything about the movie, and I like that they offered a scientific explanation for her ghost-seeing abilities. But it doesn’t quite make for an interesting narrative. For starters it’s very awkwardly structured; the first 20 minutes or so deal exclusively with Mr. Gordy, who is phased out of the movie during the 2nd act. Mediums come to investigate and not much happens, the kid grows older and joins a church... it’s sort of like "The Lovely Bones" (the book), where it’s not so much a story but a sequence of things happening to some folks. Look for Mr. Gordy to be a bigger part of the eventual movie version.
There are a couple of decent scary moments though. Children’s voices coming from nowhere are always creepy, and there’s a nice bit of Mr. Gordy pushing the girl on a swing, which is framed in a way that her mother (us) cannot see if he’s actually there or not (this is the earlier, best part of the movie, when they’re still trying to figure out if Gordy is real or imaginary). I also liked the moment where Heidi asks her mom if she’ll be mad if she tells her that someone is standing beside her (guaranteed that’s either the closing moment of the trailer, or the one about 2/3 the way thru, the last line of dialogue we hear before some current-ish rock song kicks in over a montage of money shots - and I know this because pretty much all studio horror trailers are cut exactly the same).
I think the movie would have worked better as a whole if they had told it out of order, from Heidi’s point of view. We start with the parents, with Heidi being the usual sort of kid seeing ghosts character, but she’s the main character of the 2nd half, with her parents more or less sidelined. It’s an awkward transition that could have been rectified if it started with Heidi today, recounting her story. They also should have just made up a reason for Mr. Gordy’s eventual disappearance, because fact or fiction, you don’t just let your creepy old ghost character exit the movie without saying why. It’s rude.
What say you?