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The Haunting in Connecticut

There's no rest for the dead — or the living — in this laughably hokey haunted-house hand-wringer based on yet another Amityville-style "true story" peddled by an enterprising family eager to turn a bum real estate deal into a pop-culture gold mine. The trouble begins when the Campbell clan — Mom (Virginia Madsen, battling her own terrifying, post-Oscar-nom curse), Dad (erstwhile Hal Hartley muse Martin Donovan), and cancer-stricken teenaged son (paler-than-thou Robert Pattinson doppelgänger Kyle Gallner) — move into one of those rickety fixer-uppers with "a bit of history" that looks like it hasn't been redecorated since the last Depression, only to discover (spoiler alert!) that it's a former funeral home where once upon a time, something very, very bad happened. From there, you can set your watch by the phantom apparitions, shock-edited sepia flashbacks, and eruptions of projectile ectoplasm until a mysterious man of the cloth (Elias Koteas, sporting the House of Father Merrin's spring line) shows up to invoke the power of the Almighty. In the realm of domestic horror, The Haunting in Connecticut is about as scary as a shower that suddenly changes temperature when someone flushes the toilet, but its stolid, unironic flat-footedness may prove an asset in a box-office climate where everything '80s (Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Paul Blart: Mall Cop AKA Police Academy 10) is new again.


Sunshine Cleaning

More than a year after its first twirl at Sundance, this Amy Adams/Emily Blunt dramedy finally shrugs its way into theaters, and it feels almost like an afterthought. A film about sisters who go into the crime-scene cleanup business, it's a muddled mess: terrific performances (from Adams, especially, as the ex-high school cheerleader now at the bottom of the pile) buried beneath contrivances and clichés, not to mention Alan Arkin cast yet again as the foul-mouthed gramps dispensing four-lettered advice to a troubled youngster (Jason Spevack, as Adams' son, who'll lick anything and anyone). Director Christine Jeffs, working with Megan Holley's screenplay, renders the light and dark as a muddy shade of sitcom-pilot gray. This has the makings of a great Showtime series — feels a bit like Weeds but with cleaning fluid instead of bong water. Too bad what's intended to play as funny (girls and gore) stumbles into slapstick; what's meant to play as profound (girls and dead-mommy issues) sinks into the overwrought. Yet another willful, comically tortured "indie" coated with Hollywood's happy-ending sheen — or perhaps, at this point, it's simply hard to buy the perky Adams and pretty Blunt as schlumpy losers trapped in the bland flyover with an Oscar-winner stuck in rerun mode.


12 Rounds

In this action flick, a detective (John Cena) discovers that his girlfriend (Ashley Scott) has been kidnapped by an ex-con tied to the detective's past, and he must complete 12 challenges to secure her release. (Not yet reviewed.)

 
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