The name ‘Amityville’ has a great reputation in horror. This is mainly down to the popularity of The Amityville Horror (1979) a film based on a book that was based on a true story – or so it is said.
The original film was creepy enough for it to rank up there with the other notorious horror films of the period (such as The Omen and The Exorcist) and even spawn a bunch of sequels, remakes and related titles, the most recent of which being The Amityville Haunting.
This latest creation re-visits the infamous Amityville house (although it doesn’t really – in fact, you never see the house from a distance and so can’t tell if it really is the iconic building) as a new family decides to ignore the books, films and rumours and move in.
What follows is a found footage film that commits a crime of the worst kind – it claims to be ‘real’ footage.
Upon reading the opening titles and misguiding claims you could easily be tricked into thinking that what is about to commence has some potential. Perhaps it’s a documentary with footage of real events at the house? Wouldn’t that be great?
Unfortunately though, it isn’t like that at all.
Instead, what follows is 90 minutes of bad acting, supposedly caught on camcorders, security cameras and mobile phones (although actually shot with high-end equipment) documenting various strange, spooky happenings and various violent deaths – all made possible with the help of low budget CGI.
As the family witness a string alarming incidents without questioning why they choose to remain in the cursed house, you’re likely to question why you’re choosing to continue watching this film.
As the more subtle, and to some extent creepy occurrences build into increasingly unbelievable, fantastical events, the reactions of the characters seem to fizzle out. As they unconvincingly try to show emotions like fear and concern at this life threatening situation, the inconsistency of it all makes you appreciate just how awesome films like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project are.
It also bugs me that it’s shot so well (using high def cameras and good lighting). If you want to create a convincing found footage film, make it look as crappy as you like. It just adds to that authentic feel (Blair Witch again is an excellent example of this).
At no point does The Amityville Haunting seem real and because the film is based on this premise, no amount of CGI blood, crackly sound effects or cliched spooky moments can save it.
In some ways, The Amityville Haunting was unlucky to have caught me on the rebound of another deceptive and disappointing found footage film, Tape 407 (review to follow shortly).
The standard of acting in Amityville is reasonable enough for a low budget horror and I have witnessed a lot worse as far as plot and effects go.
But the fact that it has the gall to ride on the reputation of a horror classic and claim to be ‘real’ scores many minus points in my book.