'Haunting,' the movie, now out as 'Haunting,' the DVD

'Haunting,' the movie, now out as 'Haunting,' the DVD
July 13, 2009
By: Richie Rathsack

SOUTHINGTON - Though he'swritten thousands of news articles over the years, Ken Di Mauro said, one in particular keeps coming back to haunt him and others who were around at the time.

The story involves a house on Meriden Avenue that was the basis for the movie "The Haunting in Connecticut," which comes out on DVD today. The DVD contains a documentary featuring local residents- such as Di Mauro, Sgt. Lowell De Palma of the Police Department, library staff and neighbors - talking about the original incident.

"I always thought it was amazing, of all the articles I have done - and I have written probably thousands of articles- that this is the one article that keeps haunting me," said Di Mauro, now the associate editor of The Plainville Citizen. He covered the haunted house as a reporter for the Southington Observer. "It was quite interesting, but we really didn't see anything."

The original story dates to the late 1980s, when the Snedeker family moved to Southington so their eldest son would be near the University of Connecticut Health Center, where he received treatment for cancer. The house used to be the Hallahan Funeral Home, butwas later turned into apart
ments. The mother of the family, now Carmen Reed, said that her son soon began to see paranormal activity.

"My son was very sensitive and gifted. I should have sensed that the house was bad, but I did not," Reed said Monday. "Like a domino effect, so many things had to line up for this to happen."

The odd activity increased, Reed said, to the point where members of the family were getting violently attacked by paranormal forces. An exorcism was performed on the house and the Snedeker family moved to Tennessee shortly afterward.

Reed said she was in Tennessee trying to lay low after the events, but one of the film's producers, Daniel Farrands, found her through the Internet and finally convinced her to help with the movie. Normally she doesn't like that genre of movie, she said, but was pleased with the way it turned out.

"I think that Virginia (Madsen) is an amazing lady. She nailed the emotions of everything a mother has to deal with," Reed said. "I cried through the whole thing. I was reliving the cancer more than anything."

In the documentary, Reed said that her children were ostracized after the story of the haunting went public, but she does not harbor any bad feelings toward the town.

"Southington is a beautiful town. The houses were just classic and so neat, and the downtown area with the Green. I always enjoyed living there. I think the world of it," Reed said. "I was sorry I had to upset so many folks. I don't feel any animosity over the things that happened to me."

The movie was the first major motion picture for director Peter Cornwell, who has a background doing short films and animation. He said it was an interesting switch to work with live actors.

"It was awesome. Given my background on animation, I made it my business to learn everything about acting," Cornwell said. "When I was animating, I spent years alone in a dark room. With actors, they blink on their own. You don't have to count frames until you shouldmake themblink again."

Cornwell said the producers changed the name of the town in the movie to try to protect the current residents of the house, who would like their privacy respected. The movie takes place in the fictional town of Goatswood, Conn. Themovie actually was shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

"We actually changed the location of the house in the movie. I was disappointed when I heard that people were going by and hanging out on their property," Cornwell said. With the release of the DVD, the town will likely be put in the spotlight again, especially with the documentary showing many recent shots from town.

Reference librarian Gene Grass was interviewed for the documentary about people coming into the Southington Library requesting information on the house, such as the book "In A Dark Place," which also was based on the Snedekers' story.

"It's an interesting thing for the town," Grass said. "If it brings people into the library, we are happy about that."

Library publicist Jeane Chmielewski said a few copies of the movie will be available for checkout as soon as they come in. Di Mauro, who was also the town historian for 10 years, thinks the publicity for the town is entertaining but may be counterproductive, though he was happy to be a little part of the phenomenon.

"It's certainly entertaining, but is it historical? Not really. Is it cultural? I guess. It's kind of ironic and counterproductive. Southington should be known for a lot of things, such as cement that can solidify in water, one of the first trolley systems in the nation, or for the manufacturing of carriage bolts. This story of the house just has a life of its own."

As for the rest of the Snedeker family, Reed said they are all doing well and moving on with their lives. The oldest son, Philip, fully recovered from his cancer and is now a truck driver living in Alabama with a family of his own. Her other sons work in the nursing field not far from her in Tennessee, while her nieces Tammy and Kimberly Alvis live in South Carolina as a phlebotomist and a maker of false teeth, respectively.

The movie, released by Lionsgate Films, will be available on DVD today, in three versions: just the film, the film plus special features, and the Blu-ray version, which also contains the special features.
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