Amityville: The Awakening
Every house has a history. This one has a legend.
Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother's expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn't telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house.
ActorsStarring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne, Cameron Monaghan, Thomas Mann, Jennifer Morrison, Kurtwood Smith, Mckenna Grace, Taylor Spreitler
We all know the story behind “The Amityville Horror” and we’ve all seen the many, many movies that followed the classic film from 1979. While most films have taken place in that same cinematic universe as the original, or have chosen to “reboot” the original, this film has decided to make itself a more unique entry in the franchise. Instead of creating another sequel or a reboot, the filmmakers created this in our universe. This means all of the Amityville horror movies exist in this film’s universe as Amityville horror movies, not previous events. Therefore, this film doesn’t follow any events from the previous films, nor does it try to reboot the original film, because those films all exist in this universe. The concept is very meta and a refreshing entry in an otherwise, frankly, overpopulated franchise.
Belle moves into the old Amityville house with her mother, younger sister, and comatose brother who is bedridden and in a vegetative state. Somehow, they all move into the Amityville house without realizing it is the Amityville house, all except their mother and aunt, who couldn’t pass up a good deal on a house. It doesn’t take long for Belle to realize the house she’s currently living in is the infamous home from the films, as her new high school peers point this fact out to her almost immediately. After doing some research, Belle discovers what the other teens are saying is true, and soon after realizes the Amityville demons seem to be interested in her comatose brother. With her mother seemingly blinded by despair and delusion, it’s up to Belle to defend her family from the dark forces that dwell in her new home.
I admit that I had zero faith in this movie before I even started watching it. This was mostly due to the film failing to release in theaters after 5 years of pushing back the release date. It became a running joke every time a new release date was announced, as it was sure to be soon followed by a retraction of the date and a new, unspecified released date for the near future. The film even changed title, plot and rating during this five-year period, and I became convinced I’d never get to see the movie. Once it finally did release, my initial enthusiasm for the film was gone, and instead I watched out of personal obligation and morbid curiosity. However, I will also admit that I was pleasantly surprised after the film began, and each scene thereafter seemed to raise my hopes just a little bit more. The plot of the demons in the house being interested in the comatose boy to use as a vessel of sorts was brilliant. Once I discovered the plot, I convinced myself to give the movie a fair chance.
At one point, the children are watching the original “The Amityville Horror” movie from 1979 in the living room, which I thought was an enjoyable nod to the classic, which would have been impossible to include in any of the previous “Amityville” movies. There are several truly creepy scenes, such as when the shadow of the comatose boy is seen in the doorway of the little girl, and her closet door slowly opening, and the boy opening his eyes for the first time; I was really impressed! This excitement did not last, however, as it was soon followed with cheesy special effects and absolutely terrible makeup. When the boy first speaks, he looks like something a child would think a ghost or demon might look like. This scene made the film feel cheap, and completely destroyed all of the suspense that the film did a wonderful job of building. From there, the film began a downward spiral into the crappy horror movie I feared it was.
While the first half of the film built up a tremendous amount of suspense, the second half instead tore it all down. One-liners, cheap makeup effects, and ridiculous plot points take you out of the film and make you realize this is just another horrible entry in a franchise with already too many horrible entries. Belle’s mother reveals that she knew her son would get possessed, and that God had failed her so she was hoping the devil would not. She wanted to her son to get possessed so that he would come back to life. Has this woman not seen a horror movie ever? In what universe does that sound like a good idea? Belle dresses as a gothic girl while she’s at school – only while she’s at school – yet her personality doesn’t fit with the image. The filmmakers should have left her character unchanged from the girl we see and know outside of school. The last thing this movie needed was consistency issues. In the end, her brother runs to the basement and transforms into a stronger version of himself, kills their mother and aunt, and Belle ends up dragging him away from the house until the demons leave his body.
It’s such a disappointment to be enjoying a really good horror movie and then see it all fall apart. It’s more disappointing to lose faith in the movie before watching it, then start to enjoy it, and then see it all fall apart, proving your initial fear to be correct. This is the second Bella Thorne horror movie I’ve seen this year, behind “The Babysitter”, and so far I’m not impressed. She has a third film, “Keep Watching”, coming out later this month, and it looks good from the trailers I’ve seen. Let’s hope it’s better than this.
This movie is…
The original classic still remains the best.
Cheers and goodnight.
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