On March 27, the movie “A Haunting in Connecticut” hits the theaters. And it's based on a true story. Kind of.
Here’s how Lions Gate describes the film:
“When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner’s clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now unspeakable terror awaits, when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the powerful dark forces of the supernatural, returns to unleash a new kind of horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family.”
That was the reaction of Lorraine Warren when she heard the synopsis.
Lorraine and her late husband, Ed, were the investigators in real life.
"It’s a case that was much, much scarier than any movie could ever be," Lorraine said. She also said that in typical Hollywood fashion, the movie is about as far fetched from the actual case as it could be. “The movie is very, very loosely based on the actual investigation,” she said.
And she’s not too thrilled with it, either.
“You don’t know how many phone calls I’m getting. It’s embarrassing. Do you know the amount of time and effort that we put into that case? Do you know how many meetings with the clergy we had to finally bring closure to the family?”
So we asked Lorraine to explain how it all really happened.
And as you might expect, the true story begins in the witching hour, in the wee small hours of the morning.
“It was back in the ‘80’s. We were called, it was very late at night, that Ed and I were called by a woman and her niece who were living with her at the time,” Lorraine said.
That family was the Snedekers. In the movie, they're known as the Campbells.
She said the family had moved into a house on Meriden Avenue in Southington while their son was being treated for cancer at UConn. They wanted to find something close to the hospital so they could take him as an outpatient. What they found – and bought – was a big and seemingly welcoming home.
“All they could see when they were going to rent this property was a big, airy place. That’s what it looked like. But what they didn’t know was that it’s a former funeral home," Lorraine said.
Oh, and by the way, the morticians at the funeral home were allegedly involved in necrophilia, or performing sex acts with corpses.
What used to be the show room for the coffins was now the kids room. Just down the hall? The place where the bodies were prepared for viewing.
“The boys were the first to start talking about things they had seen and experienced, saying they were terrified,” Lorraine said. “The parents were kind of chastising the kids – they thought it was all crazy. But the kids were so scared they started sleeping on the floor in the living room.”
Among the sounds the kids would hear were the sound of chains pulling the coffins upstairs. Only thing was… there were no coffins.
“The night that the mother and the niece called us, they were really terrified,” said Lorraine. “Her niece was in a small bedroom in the back and the covers on her bed were levitating around her like there was a fan blowing them around.”
Lorraine said while the mother was on the phone with her, even more bizarre events started happening.
“The mother had rosary beads in her hand. They were in the kitchen talking to us and the beads were actually being pulled apart in her hand and falling to the floor.”
Lorraine and Ed went over the next morning with the family’s parish priest. Lorraine said even HE was scared. A blessing of the house seemed to do nothing to calm things down, she said.
“You really felt for this family. We tried everything to keep them comfortable. You can’t say to a family that has a sick son in the house that you have to just move on,” she said.
That’s when the Warrens decided to call in the big guns.
“It finally got to the point where we contacted the bishop’s office in Hartford. Thank God he was very open to our work and what was going on. He sent two priests to the house and both of these priests were very high in the church. One had been used as an exorcist. They came to the house and said mass.”
But during that mass, Ed, who had recently suffered a heart attack, started having severe heart palpitations.
Enough was enough.
“Both priests wrote a letter to the bishop saying an exorcist was needed, and they didn’t want to do it,” said Lorraine. “These were powerful forces at work.”
She said the church sent an exorcist, which seemed to do the trick. But not before one last “hurrah” from whatever was believed to be haunting the house.
“When the exorcism happened, a crazy thing also happened that we still don’t really understand,” she said. “There was a huge tree in front of the house – and half of the tree, with no wind, broke off and fell on the property.”
The family moved a short time later.
And the rest is history.