Amityville: The Awakening
In Amityville: The Awakening, a single mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, moves her three children into a haunted house, unaware of its bloody history. When strange phenomena begin to occur in the house, Belle, played by Bella Thorne, begins to suspect that her mother isn’t telling her everything. It’s then that she soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house where between illusion and reality lies evil.
So what brings us this twelfth walk-through of the cursed town named Amityville? Well, more than trying to claim that infamous and hellish place as the origin of all of the Insidious, Conjuring or other new hits of the horror genre, Amityville: the awakening actually applies the seventies calligraphy to the current imagery of horror with awkward grace and an unusual and grateful bad taste and discomfort of scenes that have to do with physical deterioration. It returns to talk about the economic crisis and the family as if a cancerous tumor that devours itself from the inside out.
It reminds us that evil penetrates, occurring in cycles that leave traces of pain embedded in the walls, in old-fashioned wallpaper and on the skin that we lose every night as we sleep. That we have nightmares and horrendous glimpses, of incubi and succubi that feed upon us. Perhaps it is not seen in this twelfth installment of the pit of hell of the middle class USA nothing more than a terror like those that I mentioned before, but attentive to it, that with its defects, that have, and babbling there are also apparitions diabolically ghostly and stimulating: sensations that Larry Clark and Todd Solondz would applaud.
This installment actually has one of the best casts of any in the Amityville series. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurtwood Smith give honest turns that help keep this thing afloat. Bella Thorne is a capable B-level horror lead, and I honestly would like to see her in slasher film as she seems perfect for one, and if you’re familiar with the show Gotham, then you’ll know what Cameron Monaghan is capable of and he’s bringing that same element and energy here in this one as your creepy possessed character. All of these folks are all selling it quite well.
Amityville: The Awakening centers around a supposedly comatose son who sometimes awakens in an unbelievable way. The film focuses more on the son than on the spirits inhabiting the house. Granted, the myriad sequels and reboots of this story have diluted its intensity, but this one had me jumping from the start. As it progresses, it gets a little less impressive and, what starts out well, gets diluted itself toward the end. However, there are strong performances by Bella Thorne and Jennifer Jason Leigh. In one scene, the movie’s characters even discuss the films based on the Amityville haunting in a fun/”meta” way which smacks of the Scream franchise.
I also give it credit for having a somewhat cool idea underneath it all. I’ve always thought the original Defeo story was much more interesting and infinitely more disturbing and haunting than the Lutz story. That’s why the sequel Amityville II: The Possession is one of my favorites in this series and I feel a jump above the first movie. This version at least boasts a capable cast and sorta feels it offers a little more in production that many of those 1990s straight to video sequels. While not the best movie, it’s not so bad that they needed to be afraid of releasing this into theaters. Blumhouse produced it, so there’s no way the budget was anything much at all. I would say this is a valiant effort in the Amityville franchise. Overall, I found this one entertaining and it held my interest and I would recommend it for a one-time watch.
Title: Amityville: The Awakening
Release Date: October 12, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne, Cameron Monaghan, Jennifer Morrison
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Directors: Franck Khalfoun
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 3.2 /5
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