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The house is a little murder-happy: “The Amityville Haunting”

October 24, 2012

Okay, let’s get this out of the way upfront: The Amityville Horror story is a crock. There’s really little doubt about this, as one of the dudes involved in the story admitted that they concocted the tale. That house still exists. It’s been bought and sold, and no one’s been eaten by flies or eaten by Burt Young or whatever-the-fuck else has supposedly happened there. Still, it’s the most famous haunted house we got, so naturally The Asylum would make a movie about it. Crap. And there’s no cheaper way to make a movie than with found-footage. Double crap. Okay, let’s all assume the position and get through this…

First off, if you read the book by Jay Anson or saw the 1979 movie The Amityville Horror or Amityville II: The Possession, or Amityville 3D, or…well, any of the rest) then you know that in this particular house was host to a family-annihilator named Ronnie DeFeo, who whacked his whole family in the early ‘70s. This actually happened. Now, the events of the The Amityville Horror didn’t, but even so, they basically boil down to James Brolin getting really, really ornery. The house messes with him a lot, but that’s really it. In this movie, however, the house is pretty much a mainline psychopath. I mean, we’re not ten minutes into this film before the house kills a half-dozen people. Forget possession, the house is a freaking serial killer.

In the pre-credits sequence, two horny, teenage couples break into it to party and have sex. This pisses the house off to no end, and kills all of them (not before the chicks get naked). This seems sort of strange to me. I mean, you’d think that after years of being abandoned, the house would be happy just to have some entertainment. Alas, like the Republican party, the house seems to hate sex. Okay, so then a family moves in, but as they do so, their realtor dies of an aneurysm on the driveway. Then a moving guy gets killed—and by “gets killed” I mean, “falls down the stairs into a pool of pre-placed blood.” Forget an exorcist, someone needs to bring Will Graham out of retirement again.

So, this family consists of two parents and three kids. Mom is pretty nondescript, but dad is a control-freak veteran of Afghanistan. They have a teenage daughter, and a youngest daughter who’s about five. Their son is maybe 12, and taping everything, which is how we get this movie. Thanks, kid.  We learn that they’re dangerously over-extended, having moved here because the teenage daughter keeps “getting into trouble.” Since she appears to be in her late-20s, I’m not sure what that trouble could be. Voter fraud? Income tax evasion?

Things start getting weird right away, with doors being opened in the middle of the night, and bumps and creaks, and low-key stuff like that. Well, dad figures it’s just the daughter sneaking out, so he installs a burglar-alarm system. In short order, dad catches some dude sneaking in to see their daughter. Like any good dad, he confronts him with a 9mm. When he tosses the kid out, some unseen force tosses dad around. And then he starts to freak.

Also, the house leaves them an iPhone that belonged to one of the kids who got offed in the beginning, and which recorded their murder. All mom and dad can fixate on is the inappropriate nudity. Maybe the house finds them as annoying as any viewer of this movie surely will.

So, more weird stuff happens and, like all dads in the Amityville movies, this one starts to lose his shit. Pretty soon, he buys a bunch of crosses and religious tokens and mumbles about “understanding the enemy.” Oh, and he also calls in his war buddies to install cameras everywhere. Why his combat unit is so adept at surveillance equipment is never explained, but on the way out, one of them makes a snarky remark about the house and gets electrocuted. Man, this house has a thin skin.

While this is happening, the youngest has made an imaginary friend named Ronnie. Yeah, you know that’s not going anywhere good.

The house escalates its campaign of harassment, and pretty soon the dad has completely lost his shit. She corrals the family when they try to flee, holds them at gunpoint, and delivers a freaked-out diatribe about fighting the enemy and the need for discipline in the unit, and at one point demonstrates a belly-crawl. At this point, the kid recording this says matter-of-factly to the camera, “So, my dad has had a nervous breakdown…” It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while.

That night, the ghost of Ronnie appears–in all his blue-jeans and flannel horror—kills the oldest by levitating her and bashing her into a wall, then boils the mother’s face off. The daughter stabs the dad and the brother to death, and the movie ends with her going with Ronnie. You’d think if Ronnie was looking for a companion, he’d’ve gone for the 29 year-old teenager, but whatever. Movie’s over. That’s all that matters.

Anyway, that’s The Amityville Haunting. It’s bad. It forgets that found-footage means you can’t change POV to make the shot better. It also transplants the house from Long Island to what looks like California. And it appears to be a totally different house. Yeah, that’s the level of skill that went into this movie.

So to recap: 1) The Amityville Horror was total BS. 2) We’re still getting bad movies based upon that fiction. 3) They make the bullshit original look like the freaking Shining. Crap, maybe that house is cursed.

One comment

  1. Hmmm sure sacred me!



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