Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents!  Today is day sixteen!

Each day, we are covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.

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Happy October 16th!  Today, because I’m a glutton, I’m continuing along Ed & Lorraine’s case list to a beautiful little home in Connecticut…

Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits.  If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window.  Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout. 

16. The Haunting in Connecticut

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It’s no secret to those who know me, but in case you didn’t – I always said if I could move anywhere in the US, it would be to New England and the surrounding areas.  Even at this moment, I’ve got a page open that shows an 1863 mansion for sale in my price range in upstate New York I’ve had my eye on… So, moving to an historic home in New England is a dream of mine.  Not only that, I spent a few years trying my hand at ghost hunting and the idea of living in a haunted house was never something that scared me, but instead excited me! 

So, seeing a film like this now that I have a family makes the whole ghost-hunting, living in a haunted house vision a bit harder to want to jump for, but just like all the others, the true horror of this story comes from real events by real humans.

As a mom, one of the most terrifying fears is having a child who becomes sick with a life-threatening disease.  Once they get old enough for you not to be afraid of them choking on peas, dying for no reason in their sleep and toddling out the door and into the street, a mother’s fears shift to new things like cancer or hidden heart problems or bullies or car wrecks.  So, as the movie begins, you quickly realize the family’s eldest son is fighting for his life in a battle against cancer.  He is remarkably kind for a teenager toward his younger siblings and parents and the family as a whole seems a pretty solid unit, except for some stability issues between the parents, everyone seems to get along.

They decide to move into an old house close to the hospital so his treatments can be easier to get to.  The rent is cheap and it all seems like it was meant to be… until the dying son starts seeing ghosts, experiencing activity and they realize, not only had the house had once been a mortuary but the eldest son’s room is had once been the embalming room.  Where of course, a whole bunch of creepy, ritualistic-style preparations of the corpses had been done.  Of course.

So, to sum up; the mortician had also been a necromancer and he forced his son to channel the dead and conduct séances in their parlor.  The father would embalm the dead then stuff them into the walls of the house to give their rituals more power.  The more power they generated, the more clear the presence of the spirits they summoned would be.  Eventually, it got out of hand and an entity killed them all.

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Was it a great movie?  Not really… honestly it had so many cheap scares it made me angry every time I jumped.  So then, why is this movie in my list?  Three specific reasons;

1; Watching your child go through something you cannot help them with or fix for them is devastating.  It truly is one of the most terrifying things I can think of, in fact, I am not sure if there is anything that makes a mother feel more helpless than not being able to fix the pain, hurt and struggle for our children.  From cancer to being haunted, this mother watches her son endure a pain that she can’t even understand let alone take it from him to ease his burden.  It’s painful to watch and it’s awful to think about.  It makes every moment with my children that much more precious.  I am, because of movies like this, reminded to be so much more grateful for even the hard times in our lives… it could be so much worse!

2; The reality of this poor ghost boy’s life when he had been alive was so sad.  He felt such grief for them and tried to get away but his father wouldn’t allow it.  He did awful things because he was forced to do them, not because he took any pleasure from it.  Seeing a child being forced into hideous and dangerous actions for the sake of a disturbed parent is some of the worst kind of child abuse I can think of.  It was awful to realize the truth of his story and what his spirit was trying to accomplish.

Finally, there is a scene at the end where the mother breaks through all all opposition and runs into the burning house to find and save her son because she refuses to believe it’s too late for him.  This entire final scene had me in tears as she did everything she could to save him.  As they huddle together in a corner of a burning room, he closes his eyes and goes limp in her arms.  She says a quiet prayer and the spirits descend, seeming to be waiting for him to join them.  Ghost story or not, this scene can rip the heart out of any mama who feels defeated against an unseen killer.

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So, that’s about it on this one.  Full of “classic scares” and dark corner tricks, it definitely spooked me enough to leave an on extra light or two and I will be holding my babies extra tight.

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