Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Amityville Haunting and Flogging a Dead Idea: A Movie Review

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Director: Geoff Meed.

Cast: Devin Clark, Jon Kondelik , Jason Williams, Nadine Crocker, Gracie Largent, and Amy Van Horne.

The entire Amityville House fiasco has been nothing but one huge trial and tribulation. And just when movie producers think they cannot leave a dead horse alone, a new movie has been made about the “most recent” events that have happened on 108 Ocean Avenue.

But to no one’s knowledge and very little national press, the house has changed its look—the building’s iconic face has been redesigned. Also, it has has had several occupants since its days of being haunted. None of them have reported about the house being spooked, and hardly any interest has developed since that last toilet mysteriously flushed (one of the many supposedly paranormal events that allegedly happened). But with this movie, maybe all this product is doing is to keep the most famous case that Ed and Lorraine Warren studied still in the public limelight.

A movie about this famous pair is being developed and James Wan (Saw) is said to direct. Their involvement with the Amityville case will no doubt be part of the film. But in the meantime, The Amityville Haunting is going full steam ahead with its release to close off the 2011 year, and maybe make those winter nights even colder.

This movie does have its moments. Despite the fact that it copies from the Paranormal Activity formula, the most effective scene happens in the opening act. One of the teens breaking in to the residence spots something humanoid up the stairs and viewers also get a perfect glimpse of it as well. Nothing more is said and to no surprise, their night does not end well. Some months later, all the blood presumably has been cleaned up, and that particular homicide covered up. Nothing is said to the Benson family that is moving in.

There are some good dynamics in the cast to make this nuclear family believable. The performances by them, however, are uneven. Virginia (Amy Van Horne) does a great job at trying to keep the family together, but Douglas (Jason Williams) is something of a war vet. He thinks he has the fort in control. Tyler (Devin Clark) is the young lad filming the events as it transpires, but not even he can capture the malicious spirit on tape. The older sister Lori (Nadine Crocker) gets ignored and she hardly plays an important role in the movie. But when the youngest child, Melanie (Gracie Largent), is talking to John Matthews, an invisible friend, that’s when the haunted house comes alive.

But true to formula, the alpha male thinks he can handle the situation. In what he attempts to do with holy water and crosses, the spirits get angry. And how he will survive remains questionable. He is like a broken record player.

Equally fragmented are the constant cuts to black to simulate a malfunctioning camera; that gets painfully annoying. Maybe Cody Peck, the video editor responsible for putting together Tylor’s footage into a presentable format, should have considered not keeping the black parts in. The technique is not always effective. The voice-overs over the black are fine, but when it’s supposed to mimic a spirit trying to tamper with the videotape, shouldn’t that come through as broken as well? All of the content should have been erased. The camera Tylor used either uses MiniDV tapes or memory flash cards. Too bad the days of 8 and 16mm are over, since that was what some of today’s most famous directors started with, before moving on to higher end formats.

What could have been more interesting as a film about the Amityville case is a discovery of the footage made by the original occupants that started it all, the DeFeo family. Forget about the Lutzes or anyone else following. To explore what set off Ronnie, even if its fictionalized, can be more terrifying than all the Amityville movies combined.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

The Amityville Haunting at The Asylum:

The Amityville Haunting Film Details w/Trailer

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