Franck Khalfoun’s (P2, Maniac) “Amityville: The Awakening” is the 10th canonical film (18 if you count the direct-to-DVD entries) in a long-running central Amityville series, a franchise of films that has tiptoed its way calmly and discreetly through the
history of horror movies without much notice. While the 1979 film “The Amityville Horror”, based on Jay Anson’s infamous “true story” of a real-life haunting in the so-called New York town, is considered to be something of a minor horror classic, few of the film’s many sequels, reboots, and spinoffs have left much impression in people’s minds. I have never seen the original film; I tend to stay away from older movies, though I did enjoy the 2005 remake. Too be honest before researching about this while writing this review I was only aware of the 2005 version and “The Awakening”.
Awakening stars Bella Thorne as Belle, a clichéd Goth teen whose devoted mother (Leigh) has moved her, her younger sister (Mckenna Grace), and her comatose twin brother James (Cameron Monaghan) into the infamous 112 Ocean Ave. house in the hopes that the new setting will revive her son. James, an unsettling, skeletal figure, like those you see in concentration camps, hangs over the family. Mom has hope, what mother wouldn’t, but his sisters are less optimistic. It’s during the serious conversations about James that Awakening threatens to break into something significant and emotional.
Bell oddly enough, is oblivious about the sinister history of the house until an excited classmate (Thomas Mann) introduces her to the DVD of the 1979 film and a copy of Anson’s book. The fact that the original film is even mentioned let alone playing a part of this one is bit odd as well.
Amid all the supernatural forces at work here, this is a decently good family drama and the director does well conveying this to screen. The film unfortunately falls into the usual set of mild jump scares, banging noises and teens slowly walking around searching for a cause. I only gave this one a shot due to the lead actress and the fact the Jason Blumhouse was involved. “Amityville: The Awakening” was completed in 2014, but was shelved for three years due to a variety of distribution problems. Strange enough, in the three years it took this film to be released, nearly six other Amityville films came out. Perhaps if they brought on James Wan it would have been more inventive.
There is another film I came across called “The Unspoken” this year from the makers of “Insidious”, “The Devil Inside” and “Paranormal Activity”. It seems to run in the same vein as “The Amityville Horror” playing as a sort of prequel if you will with what appears to be almost an “X-Files” twist ending to it.
Rated R for strong horror violence and for language
During my research I found the film was actually toned down to earn a PG-13 rating but nearly every movie site I visited still holds the R. One bit of caution there is a scene with Bell parading around in her tight underwear and her so called shirt nearly reveals her entire back nothing else is shown.
Logan at the Movies gives it a C