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The Comedy In Connecticut

I’ve had an assignment for a few months now.  It was right after I saw the movie The Haunting In Connecticut.  The story is a work of fiction about the Campbell family’s encounter with the battle between good and evil from the supernatural realm.  Trying to cope with the cancer ravaging their teenage son, in order to be closer to the clinic where he is receiving treatment, the family winds up moving to an abandoned funeral parlor that they did not realize was once used for séances and as a laboratory to study aspects of the dead and the supernatural many decades ago.  The son struggling with his health is clairvoyant and starts to serve as a kind of homing beacon for spiritual entities to crossover into our reality.

Back in the day, the previous resident of the house would dig up bodies from the nearby cemetery and conduct experiments to communicate with the dead.  I don’t remember the complete line of reasoning, but some how, cutting the eyelids off of a human carcass and cutting long phrases, perhaps prayers into the skin, prevents the spirit from moving on to the next realm of existence and forever leaving it trapped in the house.  The trapped spirits would enhance the abilities of his clairvoyant young assistant and his skill would be used to conduct séances for a handsome fee and notoriety.  The Campbell family finds a box full of dried eyelids under the floor boards indicating that dozens of bodies may have been mutilated.  Predictably, the climax comes when all of the spirits, angry at being manipulated, manifest in their mummified bodies for a final show down with the innocent Campbell family.

While the movie is not meant for anything more than entertainment for people who enjoy horror flicks, it is yet another example of how we can allow ourselves to be programmed to fear elements of the supernatural.  Dead bodies are little more than bags of flesh.  It doesn’t matter if eyelids or any other body parts are cut off or how many or what words are carved into mummified skin, dead bodies cannot become anchors to our spiritual souls.  If such was the case, cows and chickens would be haunting butcher shops and slaughter houses.  It just doesn’t happen.

For some of us, when the lights go out at night, we can imagine all kinds of unspeakable horrors waiting for us in the dark because of the fictional spiritual drama we like to see and hear.  Many of us love our ghost stories and want to be scared to death.  But these ghost stories are to the supernatural what Michael Myers and Friday the Thirteenth films are to the suburbs.  An abomination on the screen doesn’t necessarily translate into reality.  A lot of us can watch a slasher film and keep what we see in perspective.  We don’t go around thinking somebody in a spray painted Captain Kirk mask is going to pop out from behind the next tree and start kicking our ass to death.

But let it be something about some ghost that lurks in the closet.  That stuff will start to haunt some of us the moment the lights go out, even though we may be safe and sound in our own home in our own bed.  Add what will be our first line of defense against the supernatural that lurks in the shadows?  Covers and bed sheets.  That’ll keep those evil ghosts away.

We need to develop a more sophisticated sense of appreciation and perspective for all things supernatural.  If somebody came to me with a movie script about how some doctor a century ago who dug up bodies and cut off eyelids to enhance the powers of a psychic, I’d probably give it back to them and ask them to make it a little more realistic.  What’s the basis for such a hypothesis other than somebody’s vivid imagination about the relationship between our spirit and our body.  I would give them back their script and suggest that they develop a little more respect for our ancestors.

A long time ago I would’ve been more than ready to believe our ancestors could be captured and controlled to do our bidding.  But now I understand that such movies have as much realism as movies like Ghostbusters.  And like Ghostbusters with its ectoplasmic slime, these movies are little more than comedy waiting to be appreciated for their silliness and their ability to distort and little more.  I thought as much when I saw the movie so many months ago.  When it comes to drama and thrills based on the supernatural, The Haunting In Connecticut misses the mark entirely.

The tag line to this movie says that some things cannot be explained.  I guess what they were referring to was people’s attraction to a film like this and the resulting irrational response to and fear of all things supernatural.  And then they have the nerve to say that the movie was based on true events.  So was Alice In Wonderland.  It was based on a real trip by Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth who rowed three little girls up the River Thames.  That doesn’t mean any of us are going to fall down a rabbit hole anytime soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009 - Posted by | Life, Spirituality, Thoughts

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