Tag: amityville

Amityville: The Awakening

Amityville: The Awakening (2017)
★ / ★★★★

Here is yet another horror film with a standard premise of a family moving into a murder house, a standard execution of hauntings occurring at night, and a standard resolution in which nothing new is discovered or resolved. One gets the impression that writer-director Franck Khalfoun has never helmed a project in which horror, suspense, and thrills must be juggled in order to create a semblance of entertainment. Considering that he has “P2” and “Maniac” under his belt prior to this film, it is apparent he has learned nothing from them. The stench of mediocrity can be swallowed in every square inch of this lame horror outing.

The Amityville murder is a fascinating case because what had occurred in 112 Ocean Avenue was so horrific, the paranormal was employed to try to make sense of what had happened there. But the picture is not interested, not even slightly curious, in putting a new spin on a familiar territory. While it is somewhat fresh that the characters are aware that horror movies have been inspired by the house they now live in, the self-awareness is not matched by an intelligent or clever script. Due to boredom, I wondered how someone like Wes Craven might have carved the screenplay like a pumpkin so that the viewer can taste a distinct flavor on three fronts: the real-life murder, the current story being told in connection to the previous pictures, and as an exercise of the horror genre.

One of its many awful mistakes is treating the heroine, Belle (Bella Thorne), like an object to be desired rather than one to empathize with. Although Thorne is not the most versatile performer, it is not her fault that the person in charge behind the camera is adamant on making her look beautiful, always sporting cosmetics, unblemished, even when the character is supposed to be having the harshest days of living in an extremely stressful environment. Paranormal occurrences is one thing. Her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) becoming increasingly obsessed with her twin brother (Cameron Monaghan) waking up from his two-year vegetative state is another beast entirely. There is even room for genuine human drama here but Khalfoun could not be bothered to strive a little more.

Another critical misstep is the lack of genuine horror. The rising action is mainly composed of nightmares and hallucinations which carry minimal consequences. Even putting this miscalculation aside, when one takes a closer look at the approach, experienced viewers are likely to see the jolts from a mile away. For instance, a scene almost always begins in a dark room and Belle feels compelled to investigate a noise in another darker room. Of course there is going to be a punchline—which is almost always an overused jump scare. The writer-director’s lack of creativity and inspiration gets exhausting after a while. What is his goal of making a pointless movie like this?

“Amityville: The Awakening” is dead on arrival, an iteration to be completely forgotten after several days—a well-earned sentence for being so ordinary that it dissolves in the mind the moment its images are processed in the brain. I would say that at least it is only approximately eighty-five minutes long but, thinking more about it, it is eighty-five minutes too long.

My Amityville Horror

My Amityville Horror (2012)
★ / ★★★★

Though more than thirty years has passed since Daniel Lutz and his family moved out of the now notorious Amityville house, he has been unable to fully recover from the trauma of having lived there. He claims that there were many more paranormal occurrences that happened to him and his family that the movies, ten in totality to date beginning with “The Amityville Horror” directed by Stuart Rosenberg, did not cover.

Although what the Lutz family said to have experienced sounds fascinating, “My Amityville Horror” is a weak documentary because it fails to go anywhere beyond Daniel’s recollection and Psychology 101. It goes around in circles for the majority of the picture which breeds a lot of repetition. Director Eric Walter is not in control of his material and there is no reason for it to run for almost ninety minutes.

A documentary is in trouble when the best bits involve the camera scanning over pictures. I enjoyed seeing Ed and Lorraine Warren, famous demonologists, standing in different areas of the purported haunted house. The pictures have so much character, reflected through a person’s body language or a special look in his eyes, I wanted to know what each person caught in that moment in time was thinking.

There is one very creepy discussion involving a photograph that happened to have captured a child’s face peeking through one of the doors. The investigator said that the Lutz children were neither there at the time it was taken nor was a child, a kid from the neighborhood or some sort, was present. And yet there he is on the picture. Who was that child? It is not mentioned if the photo had been tampered with. One would think the material would take advantage and explore this more because if the boy in the photo was, say, someone who lived in the house a hundred years before or a member of the family—victim of a mass murder—that resided in the house prior to the Lutzes, then Daniel’s recollection of horrifying events would have held more weight.

Initially, I found Daniel to be quite interesting because whether he likes it or not, he will forever be known as one of the Amityville kids. I liked hearing his take on what he believes he saw, heard, and smelled around the house. Eventually, however, I noticed that the more stories he told, the less invested I was to hear them. Instead, I noticed his aggression especially when a question is about his stepfather, George, is brought up.

The picture poses a question: Was Daniel’s animosity toward George an element that pushed the family’s stress level to a boiling point, that perhaps the supposed paranormal activities were simply physical manifestations of what they were unable to deal with directly? It is a good question, but the film is largely unfocused, interviewing Lorraine Warren in one scene and then jumping into a psychologist’s office the next, the latter being noticeably timid that I wondered if she was in charge or her patient.

In any case, “My Amityville Horror” does not seem to have a purpose other than to put Daniel in front of the camera and allow him to speak. Quite frankly, about half the time, I was bored and wondering if he was eventually going to say something worth sitting through.