Daniel Farrands, making his narrative feature directorial debut here, story out of phantom whispers, mob connections, and other pieces, however not it’s not Daniel’s first time covering this theme, he did direct two documentaries both in 2000, entitled “Amityville: The Haunting” and Amityville: Horror or Hoax and served as one of many producers on Amityville: The Awakening (2017). Farrands also handled the writing duties for this production some might recall his previous screenwriting jobs Havenhurst (2016) and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). Nevertheless, this movie is in capable hands after all he’s done many documentaries on horror characters among them Crystal Lake Memories (2013) and Never Sleep Again (2010). When horror fans and cinema-goers in general hear the word Amityville a roll of eyes, heads in palms, oh please, only few times has this franchise ever mustered a few frights, or crossed lines, one would hope the latest installment lends a helping hand, true accounting of the killer, but not exactly, striving for a possession meets haunting tale. Although, the film obtains a decent amount of coverage and distribution through Skyline Entertainment and Uncork’d Entertainment, as the movie does show interest in the topic one more especially since The Amityville Horror (1979) came out 40-years ago.
This time around the movie doesn’t include the Lutz’ it’s primarily about the DeFeo family who lived at the infamous home of 112 Ocean Avenue, called High Hopes, a place that most horror and true-crime fans know as the place where on November 13th, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. executed his entire family as they slept in their beds. Only the family dog, Shaggy survived the horror, it all became the basis for Amityville II: The Possession (1982), as does this flick. The only thing more outrageous than the dreadful crimes, is his numerous fanciful stories, including his arrest and even his latest parole hearing in 2009 with over twenty and none of them making any sense.
Let’s begin to understand the movie, that everyone knows the guilty person, and one that’s been retold a few times whether in a feature film or a documentary or for that matter, a few dozen books. The overall concept doesn’t offer much new to the storyline, except it combines everything suggested and known about it into a blender poured out onto the screen. Clearly early on the DeFeo’s, not the happiest of families, father Ronnie (Paul Ben-Victor, some might recall from a few episodes on NYPD Blue tv-series) is a nonsense man, abusive to them all, especially his son “Butch” Ronald Jr. (John Robinson (Something Wicked ) that suffers all the punches, name-calling and sheer abuse, some he definitely deserves. Butch confides in his sister Dawn (Chelsea Ricketts (Jackals ) about getting away but he has little options. At a birthday party which is how the movie ideally starts the audience learns little things, about possible mob connections with the father, while Butch and Dawn show off to their drunken high friends the ‘red room’ and their spiritual connection to the house by floating pennies. As the movie progresses, one witnesses the downward spiral of Butch, rejection letter for college, his drug and alcohol abuse increasing, scenes of him hearing voices, even one interesting premonition moment. Dawn’s dear friends, a cameo from Sarah French (Insectula! ) start worrying about the family turmoil. I’m skipping over large segments of the movie to avoid giving too much away, which a tad difficult as many know the true fateful events, which in November will reach 45-years ago. Farrands’ conclusion does use real crime photos and presents an emotional cue of music, before finishing on the customary shot that anyone familiar with franchise knows all too well, what it represents.
In many places of the film, one sees the connections back to both fiction and reality, such as the excessive heat in his room to him waking up at 3:15 am each day. Now the movie does poke a little fun at itself, with Burt Young (Carnival of Blood ) starring as Brigante, father to Louise (Diane Franklin (TerrorVision ) both starred in Amityville II: The Possession (1982), in similar roles. Robinson does a solid performance with his version of Butch, from entertaining with wild mood swings, a childish sympathy from his sister to the self-centering rage towards his girlfriend, Donna (Rebekah Graf (Lycan ), his final moments on screen showing his coldness and translating to the viewers his heart of stone. One didn’t need the silly ghost figures with glowing fire eyes, the sheer paranoid from his drug rage enough to convey his own madness.
The film covers just enough to measure itself as an average horror movie, with some entertainment factors, it shows some sleight of hand with supernatural elements, while trying to tell a true account of the DeFeo family. Yet it muddies the cloudy water further, however a pleasant turn in the long standing and bizarre franchise, coming in second to that of Witchcraft (1988 to 2016 tallying 16 films). Nevertheless, one looks forward Farrands’ next project slated as The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019).
Every legend has a beginning.
Based on true events.
Don’t Listen to the Voices.
Hell Lives Here.
IMDb Rating: 4.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10
Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
Amityville 3-D (1983)
Amityville: The Evil Escapes (1989) (TV Movie)
The Amityville Curse (1990) (Video)
Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (1992) (Video)
Amityville: A New Generation (1993) (Video)
Amityville Dollhouse (1996) (Video)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Amityville: The Awakening (2017)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The Amityville Asylum (2013)
The Amityville Playhouse (2015)
The Amityville Haunting (2011 Video)
My Amityville Horror (2012)
The Amityville Legacy (2016)
The Amityville Terror (2016)
Amityville: Evil Never Dies (2017)
Amityville Exorcism (2017)